DES MOINES, Iowa --- The parents of Elizabeth Collins will speak at a Des Moines event that wraps child abductions with underground pornography networks and drug cartels.
Drew and Heather Collins of Evansdale are scheduled to appear at the 10th Preventing Abuse Conference at the Embassy Suites on Friday, said Tony Nassif, president of Cedars Cultural and Educational Foundation of Toluca Lake, Calif., who is organizing the conference.
Tickets are $59 in advance; lunch is included.
"It's going to be an interview situation where we will just talk about the background and what's been happening now, and get some insights from them on what people can do, if anything, to help protect other kids," Nassif said.
Elizabeth and her cousin Lyric Cook-Morrissey were last seen riding their bikes in Evansdale the afternoon of July 13. Their bikes and a purse were later found behind Meyers Lake.
Other speakers include officials with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an alleged former CIA operative involved in rescues and Noreen Gosch, mother of 1982 West Des Moines kidnapping victim Johnny Gosch. Topics will include the role of the faith-based community.
Fliers for the event highlight experts on human trafficking and drug smuggling cartels, but Nassif said he isn't claiming that the disappearance of Elizabeth and Lyric are related to those activities.
"I caution everybody, don't come to any conclusions, because there is a myriad of things that could be happening, and to focus one would negate the others," Nassif said. "I just say keep your powder dry and be aware and be open to any eventuality."
Nassif, a Cedar Rapids native, had followed the story of Johnny Gosch's abduction in the 1980s. He said became interested in human trafficking in the 1990s while living in California and writing a fictional screenplay about the occult and pedophile networks. He got involved with the Los Angeles Task Force on Human Trafficking.
"I ended up having an experience with Christ where he revealed to me that there were millions of victims. I didn't know that. About two weeks later, I come to find out the statistics were nearly 30 million trafficking victims worldwide," he said.
He later found Noreen Gosch's book while on a trip back to Iowa. In "Why Johnny Can't Come Home," Noreen Gosch wrote about kidnap-to-order rings and auctions of children.
"When I read it, I said my gosh, she's writing about the things I'm just discovering. She discovered human trafficking 25 years before it had a name, and she was saying things back then that people thought were a little far fetched. But in actuality, she was right on target because I confirmed what she was saying all along, that there's organized pedophile networks, not just lone pedophile abductors," Nassif said.
For the past seven years, Nassif has been organizing Preventing Abuse conferences, which he said are a way for organizations and people to network and to spread awareness.
He said the missing cousins were the catalyst to bring the discussion to Des Moines.