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Both sides: When a detective’s child goes missing

Detective Ed Troyer is usually in front of the media when something goes amiss in Pierce County, but when his daughter went missing, he hung back and filled a role he wasn't used to playing: the worried parent. (KIRO Radio Photo/File)

“I’ve sat with a lot of parents who’ve gone through this. I’ve sat with a lot of parents whose kids ended up not making it through this and have been deceased. So I’ve seen it. From both sides.”

Detective Ed Troyer is the Amber Alert coordinator for Pierce County. On Tuesday, his daughter went missing and was last seen with a 21-year-old Level 1 registered sex offender. She was found 14 hours after she went missing.

Troyer removed himself from the investigation into his daughter Briana’s whereabouts. Mainly, he didn’t want to cause her more harm if the man she was with was going to change his course of action if he discovered she was the daughter of a detective.

Briana is 16 years old, with the mental capacity of a 9-year-old – she’s developmentally disabled. Troyer described her as having “no filters.” She is someone who loves everybody and there is no one she would refuse to help if they were in need.

Troyer said Briana had recently joined the bowling team, a club sport at her school. The first few times she was at practice he checked in to make sure it was safe and that she was doing fine. On Tuesday, he was unable to make it to the bowling alley and Briana was supposed to get a ride home from a friend.

“She missed her ride home. We’re still trying to figure that out, how that happened. It wasn’t the other girl’s fault at all,” Troyer stressed.

“[Briana] ended up talking to a guy who was 21 years old, who I’m guessing, picked up pretty quick that this is an easy target.”

Troyer said surveillance footage showed the two played games together for about 20 minutes before they left the bowling alley.

Employees at the bowling alley were able to identify Terrance Powell. He had been thrown out of the bowling alley before for bad behavior, and that’s when they discovered he was also a Level 1 sex offender. The classification is the lowest level and applied to people, many of them first-time offenders, considered at minimal risk to re-offend.

Sgt. Mark Fulghum and Tacoma Police issued the Amber Alert. It worked, said Troyer. That’s how Tacoma Police got their tip that led to a house where they found Powell and Briana Troyer sleeping.

The investigation is on-going. Detectives returned Briana to her family and didn’t question her immediately. Powell was questioned and released. Police said they were forwarding the case on to the prosecutor’s office.

Troyer said that as the county’s Amber Alert coordinator they’ve been very successful getting kids who go missing back to their rightful guardians. But he said, “No matter how long I’ve been on the law enforcement side of it, it’s nothing like being on the parents’ side. The helpless feeling that you get. It gives me a way bigger appreciation for victims and parents that have kids that have gotten themselves into trouble, turmoil or a bad accident.”

Troyer and his wife are foster parents and Briana is their adopted daughter. He said they’ve adopted three of their foster children, the youngest is 14.

“There are a lot of kids out there in foster care that need adopted homes.”

He wrote on his Facebook page that while Briana was missing, it was the longest 14 hours of his life. Troyer is happy to have her home and now, “I can say I’ve been on both sides of it.”

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