Herald Staff Writer
MANATEE – Denise White called the sheriff’s office on a hunch Monday
For the past week, the mobile home park manager had received complaints
from her tenants at Wayside Glen Community about two 19-year-old men
harboring three underage girls inside a trailer. At night, the girls
would parade around the neighborhood in skimpy clothes, neighbors told
Then, it clicked. One of the tenants mentioned the name Monica to White.
The same name as a 12-year-old Duplex City girl reported missing Sunday
White, who usually gathers more information before calling for help, knew
she had to act.
“I thought, this is what I’ve been hearing,” she said, standing outside
the mobile home park’s front office Monday afternoon. “I let my
conscience be my guide.”
Within minutes, sheriff’s detectives and deputies arrived at the mobile
home park, and met with White. She walked with them to the trailer,
knocked on the door and spoke with one of the men inside as detectives
and deputies stood nearby.
White didn’t recognize the man, who told her his uncle – a truck driver -
let him and the other man stay at his home.
“It was so odd for someone to be down there,” White said. “He’s rarely
She told him to wake up the three girls, who were dressed in jeans and
Detectives interviewed the two men and took their fingerprints. The men
walked out of the mobile home park and jumped into a green Dodge Neon
that picked them up at the corner, White said.
The find also led detectives to Monica Ramos, who had been missing since
last week. She was seen Thursday and Friday near her home in the 300
block of 58th Avenue East, according to a report from the Manatee County
Monica was staying with a 16-year-old boy and his mother at another
trailer inside the park. She had been seen with the other girls in the
The case remains under investigation. There was no indication of abuse or
of Monica being held against her will, Manatee County sheriff’s spokesman
Randy Warren said.
“This is pretty much a warning we are going to be on the watch,” he said.
“We’re not going to tolerate people who are aiding or keeping runaways
from going home.”
This year, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has had 95 reported cases
of missing children and teenagers, Warren said. Of those, some were
On average, the agency investigates between 25 and 30 runaway cases at a
“This has brought some concern that runaways are going to go and hide out
somewhere where they feel safe, but we’re concerned they could come into
potential danger,” Warren said.
Not all parents file missing person’s reports, according to Anne Melton,
executive director of the Family Resource Shelter, a facility that helps
That’s what happened in Monica’s case. Warren said there was a history of
Monica being away from home for long periods of time. On Sunday, her
mother, Amelia Ramos, became worried and notified the sheriff’s office.
Ramos told The Herald she’s received support from friends and family
since Monica’s disappearance.
Melton said cases like Monica’s, in which the child or teenager is
harbored at someone’s house, account for 15 percent to 20 percent of
“It’s a really bad situation,” she said. “The percentage risk goes way up
in these scenarios.”
Last year, 1,300 children and teenagers were reported missing with the
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Bradenton Police Department,
according to Melton, who urged parents to call police immediately when a
child goes missing.
“The sooner law enforcement knows,” she said, “the sooner the child will
The National Runaway Hotline at (800) RUNAWAY
Bradenton’s Family Resources Shelter Help Line at 708-585