Nonprofit reaches out to help prostitutes living on KC streets - CBS46 News

Nonprofit reaches out to help prostitutes living on KC streets

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

It is a familiar story for too many families - not knowing where to turn when their loved ones take to the streets.

Many of the women who turn to prostitution do it because they feel they have nowhere else to turn for help. But there are organizations, like Veronica's Voice, that are devoted to helping get women off the streets before it is too late.

"One, you're battling the drugs, two (your) own personality, and three the addiction at the same time," said Nicholas Reed describing the history of abuse, mental illness and drug addiction that ultimately led to his sister turning to prostitution.

That lifestyle proved deadly for 23-year-old Nicoleone Reed after police say Derek Richardson, 27, murdered her last year and at least one other woman in 2011.

But there are resources designed to help. Veronica's Voice was created after the murder of a young prostitute in 1993. Kristy Childs, the group's founder, says women are often victims of abuse.

"We reach out to those that are trapped in commercial sex, which includes prostitution, also known as sex trafficking," Childs said. "We are survivors ourselves, so we are reaching out to help our sisters that are still trapped."

Childs says no woman chooses a life of prostitution, and even women with strong families and support networks can wind up in desperate situations. She says all too often drugs play a role.

"You begin using drugs to cope with your life. That just adds another layer to the problems you are already having," she said.

Childs says those challenges are only compounded by the fact that people can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped.

So until they decide to make a change, Childs says all one can do is remind them that help is there.

"Just love them, be non-judgmental. Always offer kind words and not judgment," Childs said.

Richardson attended Kearney High School, but did not graduate. Friends say they are stunned by word that someone they knew is a suspected killer.

Those who know Richardson said they are concerned for his wife and two young children. Brandy Whitesel described Richardson as a happy man who always had a smile on his face, but she said she cannot defend him.

"I feel horrible for the victims' families," Whitesel said. "I just wish they knew the person that I knew. It just goes to show you that maybe you don't know really know somebody like you thought you did."

Richardson is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He is being held on a $2 million bond.

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