I found some additional articles about Yuan Xia Wang and updated her case with a lot more detail today. A citizen of China, She attempted to enter the U.S. illegally with someone else’s passport in 1998. They caught her and sent her to a foster home, from which she disappeared six weeks later. She told the authorities she was twelve, but her foster parents thought she was more like fourteen or fifteen. In any case, she’s been missing for thirteen and a half years.
They don’t seem to know much about Yuan, only what she told them: that she comes from the city of Fuzhou in China and all her immediate family lives there. (Assuming this is all truthful.) Her parents paid big bucks to a Thai man to take her to the U.S., where he was supposed to drop her off at a hotel. He served eight months for passport fraud; I couldn’t find anything else about him. Yuan didn’t speak a word of English, only Mandarin Chinese. Her foster family didn’t speak Mandarin. She was enrolled in junior high, where none of the students spoke Mandarin and only one teacher did. Her foster parents thought she seemed happy enough in their home, but she must have felt really lonely.
It’s up in the air what happened to Yuan, whether she ran away to avoid deportation, or if the smugglers’ network rescued/kidnapped her, or if something else entirely caused her disappearance. The police said it didn’t seem to be like an ordinary human trafficking situation, where the people arrive in the U.S. owing money to the smugglers for their passage and have to work as virtual slaves at sweatshops and brothels: Yuan’s parents had paid for her trip in full ahead of time. In 2008 there were leads placing her in the Kansas City area, but I don’t believe they were ever able to prove she was there. I suppose she could have returned to China.
If she is alive today, Yuan Xia Wang would be somewhere between 25 and 28 years old. Maybe someone out there will recognize a tall Chinese girl with a very round face.