Team 12 Investigates: Mother searching for daughter who has been missing since end of March

Laster says that she has received calls about her daughter’s missing case from three detectives since she went missing but that they have not been able to provide any meaningful updates.

Katelynn Ulrich and Adolfo Carrion

Oct 5, 2023, 2:27 AM

Updated 199 days ago

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Tiona Laster has been spending months searching for her daughter Zay’Ona, who went missing at the end of March.  
Laster says that the night before her daughter left and did not return, Zay’Ona was brought home by police after being arrested for prostitution and assault.  Zay’Ona is 14 years old, and legally it qualifies as sex trafficking if anyone offers a child for sex. 
Now, Tiona Laster has found herself spending hours going around to businesses of all sizes asking them to put her missing daughter’s photo up, but to no avail.  
Laster says that she has received calls about her daughter’s missing case from three detectives since she went missing but that they have not been able to provide any meaningful updates. One did inform her that the case was being investigated as human trafficking, but the NYPD did not directly confirm that. 
“Some of the problems that we deal with are for nefarious reasons, right? Sometimes these kids disappear, and they end up either addicted to drugs, forced into prostitution or even sex trafficking,” said Joseph Giacalone, retired NYPD Sergeant. “It takes a long times sometimes, or that one lucky tip, in order to determine what exactly transpired.” 
Giacalone says police do not call families without an update and encourages families to reach out. An  
NYPD spokesperson told Team 12 Investigates’ Katelynn Ulrich that missing person investigations usually involve a canvas of the area where the person was last seen, checking of hospitals and other locations, and then it is often taken over by the Detective Bureau, who collaborates with other agencies.  
If someone you know goes missing, call the police as soon as you can – you don’t need to wait a day or more to file a report.  
Dealing with a similar case regarding a missing person? Reach out to Team 12 Investigates: 


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