Hope For The Missing

risk 1

Risk Assessment: runaways and hitchhikers

I. Introduction

This report details the steps taken while conducting a risk assessment on the risks associated with running away and hitchhiking. It lists six sections: the introduction, the risk assessment approach, the system characterization, the threat statement, the results of the assessment, and a summary of the findings.

There are about ten steps to this assessment. It begins with identifying the assets, the hazards, and the possible risk scenarios. Followed by system characterization that will assist in identifying a systems processes to further identify the risks. The next section identifies the threats and vulnerabilities the asset is exposed to. It also contains an analysis of the risk controls currently in place to prevent runaways and hitchhikers from being exposed to dangerous environments. The team then beings to conduct its own testing through the use of a risk matrix. Each risk scenario is assigned priority levels based on its probability and impact variables. The last step of the process is to recommend new controls that will prevent youth from being in these environments. The last section of the report is a summary of the entire assessment.

 A member of Missing in America has been tasked by the Founder to compile a risk assessment detailing the dangers of running away and hitchhiking. Missing in America is a non-profit organization. It has been created by, Nancy Schaefer with the intentions of assisting families search for their missing loved ones. This organization provides assistance to families at no cost. By conducting investigations on a missing persons past to try and determine where they could be. A large portion of the individuals the organization searches for are runaways.  Studies have found that 1 in 7 individuals between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away. The Founder would like a risk assessment conducted on the dangers of running away and hitchhiking to inform young adults of the risks of such behavior. These behaviors can expose teenagers to abuse, sexual exploitation and death.  
Scope of the Risk Assessment

The scope of the risk assessment is wide focusing on injuries and deaths resulting from running away and hitchhiking. This assessment will also only focus on cases involving individuals between 10 and 18 years of age since this risk assessment will be used to inform students within this age frame. This does not limit runaways and hitchhikers to this age range, runaways and hitchhikers exist in all age ranges.

The hazards that will be included are transportation hazards, exposure hazards and physical hazards. This risk assessment will not include the scope of tax risks, legal risks, financial risk or product market risks. It will also be omitting cases involving adults over the age of 18. Omitting these kinds of risks and higher ages will help keep the assessment focused on the physical hazards runaways and hitchhikers face as well as allowing other teenagers to be able to relate in situations.

II. Risk Assessment Approach Research Assessment Team

The research team for this assessment consists of one individual member of Missing in America, Sheilangely Lugo. Sheilangely is currently a senior pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Security and Risk Analysis with an option in Social Factors and Risk. She is also pursuing a minor in Psychology. She has conducted risk assessments in the past and has studied risk management. This has allowed her to better understand the need for organizations and companies to identify their assets and how to properly protect them from threats. This is what is being done in this assessment, our team will identify the organizations assets and their vulnerabilities and then recommend new controls to better protect these assets.

Hazard Identification

The first several steps to conducting the risk assessment include identifying what the assets are—which was explained in the purpose and scope sections of this report. The next step is to identify the hazards the assets face by conducting research and looking at previous situations in which they have been exposed to certain hazards. In a typical assessment the research team would then conduct a visit to the location on which the assessment is being done to determine if any hazards are in plain view but due to the circumstances of runaways there will not be a specific location to assess. Instead our team will look at the potential environments a runaway can end up in and assess those as locations. Once the virtual visit has been conducted the team will conduct its own tests by using structured analytic s. Each step is described in greater detail as they are completed.

Literature Review

There are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or
  The first step in this process is to research published works that have already listed the risks associated with running away and hitchhiking. Some of these works include statistical studies that have been conducted to determine the amount of runaways per year and the reasons for running away and hitchhiking.

 Other pieces of works include cases that detail the lives of runaways and what has been the results of them running away. This literature will provide a base for conducting the assessment. It will provide some proof that there is a problem that needs to be examined.


                                            Running away is very common among youth between the ages of 10 and 18. “The National Runway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friend or with strangers (NCSL, 2013).” Most of these runaway teenagers end up homeless, living on the streets and in abandoned buildings. Due to not having supervision these teenagers become exposed to several hazards. Such as: drugs, sexual abuse, death, illnesses, and assault. This is supported through a study conducted that reported that about 9% of runaway youth in a non-random sample of 1,600 youth reported engaging in survival sex at some point. Survival sex would be trading sex for food or drugs or shelter (Walls & Bell, 2011).

To depict these hazards and risks, our research team has compiled a list of cases involving runaways which have resulted in deaths. These cases detail the mindsets of the teenagers prior to running away to provide insight into the causes of running away.

Due to the associations between runaways and hitchhikers, our research team will also be delving into teenage hitchhikers. Another list of cases has been compiled for hitchhikers to depict the risks and hazards they are exposed to.

Run away Cases

Case 1: Patricia Martin was reported missing on September 10. She had runaway and was believed to be with her boyfriend. Employees at a motel in Newark, California found a couple in the room unconscious. They were both deceased. They had been shot. It appears to be a “murder-suicide” or “double suicide.” It was confirmed that Patricia Martin was the female but the male has not been identified yet (NG, 2012).

Case 2: Amy Ford was 17 years old. She had been reported as a missing teenager from Lancaster. She lived in a foster home and after a dispute surrounding an incident involving her hamster she ran away. Later that day Amy was seen walking on train tracks with headphones in, she was struck and killed. The conductor did not see her and did not have enough time to stop or honk the horn (Brown, 2015).

Case 3: Katlyn Ann Shope Williams was 14 years old when she took a bag of clothes, climbed out of her bedroom window and spent 7 weeks as a runaway. She ran away from her home in Crawford County. After those 7 weeks, she swallowed several pills and passed out and never woke up.

Katlyn had been adopted when she was 6. She had been sexually abused as a child by both, strangers and her biological parents. A month prior to her running away she spoke with her biological mother for the first time since she had been removed from her care in 2008. She called her mother almost every day during the time she was missing, and told her she was prostituting to get by. When she was on the verge of being found she ran away from the home she had been staying in with her then boyfriend, Austin Meyer. She was found in the home of two men known to be sex offenders. One of the men she was staying with found her wheezing in bed around 10am on May 15th but neither one of them called for help until 3:30pm. She died at the hospital (Manning, 2014). 

Case 4: Devin Borkowski was 16 year old runaway from Elkhart. His body was found in March, after a month of being reported as a runaway in February. He was found in an abandoned home known to be a drug house for a while. The cause of his death is still unknown while the corner awaits toxicology results (WNDU, 2015). 

Case 5: John Wayne Gacy was a serial killer who killed young men and boys. He killed 33 between 1972 and 1978. The majority of his victims were drifters or runaways. There is much speculation was to whether he killed more than the police have discovered. He buried them in a crawl space beneath his house in Chicago (CNN, 2015). 

Case 6: Gary Leon Ridgeway also known as the Green River Killer targeted runaways and prostitutes. He is known to have killed about 48 women between 1982 and 1998. He confessed to killing 48 women and confessed to a 49th murder in order to avoid receiving the death penalty (CNN, 2015).

Hitchhiking Cases

Case 1: Randy Steven Kraft was a serial killer who picked up hitchhikers. He sexually abused them, mutilated and strangled them. He is reported to have murdered young men between 1972 and 1983. He has been linked to 45 murders but is suspected of killing 65 due to a death list he created. He was arrested, at the time of his arrest police found a dead Marine in his car (CNN, 2015).

Case 2: Lori Lee Kursa was 13 when she ran away from home in 1972. She had been known to hitchhike. Her remains were found on December 14, about a month after her disappearance. She was found in a ravine. She had been murdered by a serial killer. Her neck had been broken. She had not been raped and was believed to have been killed about a week or two before her body was found. A witness came forward a few weeks later saying he possibly saw a girl with Lori Kursa’s description being pushed into the back of a van (Wikipedia).

Case 3: Carolyn Nadine Davis was a 14 year old runaway from Shasta County. She was last seen July 15th 1973 hitchhiking on Highway 101. She was found July 31st, deceased. She had been poisoned and possibly raped by the same perpetrator who killed Lori Lee Kursa (Wikipedia).

Case 4: Mary Ellen Jones was 15 years old when she ran away with her boyfriend Mark Matson. She came to the police in July of 1973. They had been hitchhiking. They were picked up by a man who called himself “Eric.” He took them to his home and forced them to commit sexual acts while he photographed them. Mark was shot and killed when he tried to go for the man’s gun. The man held Mary for another 24 hours before he released her. He had held her in a torture chamber where he kept her chained while he raped her. Once Mary reported this to the police her mother told them that she was a known liar so they didn’t believe her story.

A few days later a neighbor called the police about the suspicious actions of Albert Brust. He had been sitting in his lawn chair for two days without moving. When police went to investigate they found he was dead. He had committed suicide. While they were searching his house they found Mark’s remains in concrete behind the shower and they also found a torture chamber. As well as, his personal journal where he expressed his fantasies about having a sex slave. He also explained why he decided to kill himself, he was disappointed with the experience. All.3 of this proved Mary Ellen’s story about what had happened to her and her boyfriend (Warder, 2015).

Case 5: Amy Billig is the name of a missing person who is listed in the NamUs database. She was a 17 year old who often hitchhiked. She was last seen hitchhiking along Main Highway in 1974. After years of investigation Amy has not been found. But several reports have been made about where she could be. One person reported her being held against her will by a biker gang called “The Pagans.” This same person later admitted that Amy had actually overdosed the same day she disappeared at a party “The Pagans” were having. They disposed of the body. Another person told her mother that she was being held captive by a sex slavery ring. This person, Henry Johnson Blair, was arrested in 1995. In her diary, Amy wrote about wanting to run away with a man names Hank which happened to be Blair’s nickname. Blair continued to deny any involvement in the disappearance of Amy. To this day she hasn’t been found (Warder, 2015).

Case 6: Vanessa Veselka is a survivor. She was 15 years old when she ran away from home with her boyfriend. The first time she was picked up by a truck driver she molested her while she was asleep. She says that was only “a preview” of how things would go for her. Truck drivers were constantly trying to have intercourse with her. A few weeks later she and her boyfriend had a fight and separated. Weeks later she is picked up by a truck driver who ends up changing her life forever. This driver was disturbed. He pulled over to the side of the road and pulled a knife on her. He told her to get in the back. She talked him out of it and he told her to run. Years later she received an email from her friend which talked about a serial killer who targeted hitchhikers and runways. He kidnapped them, tortured them, and murdered them. She began investigating to determine if this was the same man who had threatened her. She never found out for sure but she saw similarities in the serial killer and the man from the truck. Throughout her investigation she found several disturbing facts about serial killers and how risky it was for her to be on the run. She tells her story to the world to warn people about the kind of people who exist out here (Veselka, 2012).    

The national databases currently have a smaller number of reported cases then the team initially thought. NamUs has about 33 cases that fit the criteria of this assessment while the Doe Network has about 140. These cases do not clarify if the individual was found or what their conditions were when they were found. The cases listed above are the basis the team will use while conducting its ratings for likelihood and impact as well as other cases the team came across while conducting research.


Virtual Visit

The next step in the assessment process is to attend a visit of the location the team is assessing. Due to runaways and hitchhikers constantly being on the move, there is no specific location to assess, aside from highways. Therefore, our team will mostly be assessing the risks they are exposed to due to being on the run. Our team will briefly assess the risks of hitchhiking on highways but it will be limited due to the amount of highways in the US.

There are a large amount of highways all throughout the U.S. and because of this it is difficult to pick a specific one to asses. Our research team decided it would be best to assess all highways in general. Through the use of google earth, the team determined that almost all highways have no sidewalk for pedestrians since it was not expected for people to use them for walking. There is a shoulder to either side of the highway where cars pull over but it is dangerous for individuals to walk along it since, there is no protection from the cars. Due to the speed of the vehicles it would not be reasonable for individuals to walk along a highway because it would reduce a driver’s reaction time. By the time the driver sees an individual walking along the road it will be too late for them to slow down or swerve away.

A study conducted on 103 young
runaways reported that
about a fifth (21/103)
had been sexually exploited.

Click to edit text

Figure 2: Facts (NRS, 1995)

Structured Analytics

In this step of the risk assessment, the team compiled a list of hazards that runaways and hitchhikers face while on the move. This list is known as an analytic technique called divergent and convergent thinking. It is a brainstorming process that allows a team to freely record any and all potential circumstances an asset may face in particular environments. These are called the risk scenarios. A thorough list of these risk scenarios can be found in Appendix 1. It also contains a thorough explanation of why this analytic technique is used.  
Risk Matrix

The risk matrix that will be used to assign probability and impact levels to each risk scenario was created by the research team. Please refer to Appendix 2 for a detailed explanation of each level. The explanation will have the definitions of what kind of scenarios will fall into each level. It also contains a legend for the color coding of the table.

Table 1: Risk Matrix











III. System Characterization

The next step is to identify the systems processes to then be able to identify the risks. This is usually done through the use of an input-output model. These models are used to determine which threats and vulnerabilities are most at risk. Due to the circumstances surrounding runaways and hitchhikers we will not be conducting this part of the assessment. Runaways and hitchhikers are spontaneous and impulsive, they do not have specific processes through which they go by.

IV. Threat Statement

The following step in the risk assessment is to identify the types of threats the assets face. Here the assets are the runaways and hitchhikers.

In this threat assessment two types of threats have been identified: human and environmental.

Human threats include predators, truck drivers, the runaways and hitchhikers themselves, other people who unintentionally may cause them harm. For example, a hitchhiker may be walking along a highway and someone driving a car may accidentally hit them because they could not see them. An individual’s motivations will vary upon the threat, for example, a regular person could hit a hitchhiker unintentionally but a predator will kidnap them intentionally. The results will also vary on the circumstance and threat, it can range anywhere from injuries to death.

Environmental threats include accidents, malnutrition, and infrastructure. Accidents can refer to vehicles or overdosing. Being in certain situations can cause the assets to be starved or forced into drugs. They also can be exposed to living in abandoned buildings that have weak infrastructures.

V. Risk Assessment Results

The next part of the risk assessment is a set of steps that are usually done together. They do not have a specific order to them. The team begins by identifying the threats and vulnerabilities to the assets. Followed by looking at the risk controls or protocols that are currently in place to determine their effectiveness. Then the team will use the risk scenarios to conduct its own testing by assigning likelihood and impact for each one. The combination of the likelihood and impact ratings will result in a risk rating. Which will then be used to prioritize the risks and recommend new controls that should be implemented as a preventative measure. Each step will be explained in detail as the team completes them.

Due to the list of risk scenarios being lengthy, the team has chosen five of the most important scenarios identified. These will be used to assign likelihood and impact ratings to determine the risk rating. The complete list of risk scenarios can be found in Appendix 1 if it is needed any further.

  1. A runaway being sexually assaulted while hitchhiking
  2. A runaway being sexually assaulted
  3. A runaway/hitchhikers being targeted by predators
  4. A runaway getting struck by a vehicle while hitchhiking
  5. A runaway selling themselves for money or drugs
A)Threat/Vulnerability Pairs

A threat is a source that can cause harm or use a vulnerability against someone or something. They are anything that can pose a danger to the vulnerabilities. The threats identified for this assessment are: predators, truck drivers, civilians, the runaways and hitchhikers themselves. These can all cause physical harm to the assets through exploiting their vulnerabilities. A list can be found in Appendix 3 that lists the threats, motivations and actions. The threat analysis will only cover the threats for the five risk scenarios listed above not the entire list. 

A vulnerability is a weakness in a system that could be used against someone or something to cause harm. Every system has vulnerabilities and although this assessment doesn’t revolve around a system individuals are exposed to vulnerabilities that can cause them harm. The vulnerabilities identified for this assessment include: injuries, the need for nutrition, the need for housing, and engaging with unknown people. Appendix 4 contains a vulnerability table that lists the vulnerabilities, the sources and the actions that runaways and hitchhikers face.

B) Existing Risk Controls

There are many policies in place to help runaways find stability without the need to sell themselves for housing or money. Policies that will prevent youth from engaging in dangerous activities for survival. Several states have policies regarding runaways but these vary from state to state so for the purpose of this assessment our team will only focus on the federal policies that will apply to all of the US.

Of the existing risk controls the following are federal policies to assist runaways:

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act is a federal law that allows funding for programs to help runaways.  It authorizes funding for the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program, and the Street Outreach Program. The Basic Center Program provides them with emergency shelter, food, clothes, and counseling for about 21 days. Their goal is to get the runaways back to their families but if it is not possible they look for better housing. The Transitional Living Program provides runaways with more long term placement. Their goal is to successfully provide homeless youth with a stable transition into self-sufficient living. The Street Outreach Program provides youth with access to organizations around the world that focus on getting them off the streets. They help the youth build relationships with outreach workers. Their goal is to get them into stable environments and prepare them to be self-sufficient.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is another federal legislation that pushes schools to accommodate students’ needs so they have the ability to attend school. This also requires that a liaison be appointed to work with any youth that are homeless and the families of the individual.

The Chaffee Foster Care Independence Program is geared more towards the older set of adolescents. They provide funding to youth who are going to reach the age limit of foster care. These funds can be used for housing, education and independent living services.

The Fostering Connections Act regards funding for states to continue providing foster youth with assistance until they reach 21 years of age. On the conditions that the youth continue attending school, working or has a medical condition that will prevent them from doing either of the two.

These are only a few of the programs that are in place to help runaways, there are smaller organizations that have programs to support them.

Hitchhiking on the other hand is a little bit more complicated. Legality will vary from state to state. It is not illegal throughout the entire US only in certain states. A good majority of the US actually tolerates hitchhiking as long as the individuals remain to the shoulder of the road. The only national law that prohibits hitchhiking is 36 CFR 4.31. It is illegal to hitchhike on any property that belongs to the National Park Service (Hitchwiki, 2015). Our research team was unable to find information regarding preventative measures in place for hitchhiking.

C) Likelihood:  Discussion and Evaluation

For this risk assessment a likelihood table had been compiled by the research team. Each risk scenario has been assigned a likelihood level. It has four levels: rare, unlikely, likely, and almost certain. Rare refers to a scenario that may occur under certain circumstances but it is unlikely. Unlikely scenarios are those that have a slight possibility of occurring. Likely refers to scenarios that have a history of frequently occurring. Almost certain means the scenario is expected to happen in almost all situations. In the section below the team explains its reasoning for the probability level each scenario has received.

A runaway being sexually assaulted while hitchhiking was rated almost certain because a study conducted reported that between 1979 and 2009 there were 675 reported victims of sexual assault while hitchhiking. 500 of these victims were raped and murdered and 175 were raped and survived. Although these numbers do not define how many were runaways being a runaway will only increase the probability of occurrence because the individual would have to stay on the move to avoid detection. A combination of runaway and hitchhiking would result in a higher probability than just runaways or hitchhiking.

In the cases listed above about half of them involve runaways and hitchhikers being sexually abused. Most of the sexual abuse cases are in conjunction with hitchhikers who are runaways while a smaller portion are just runaways. Being sexually assaulted as a runaway was rated as likely because individuals will take advantage of them because they think no one will be looking for them. The probability of being sexually abused as a runaway is high but it’s even higher if the runaway is also hitchhiking due to a greater exposure to strangers. When hitchhiking an individual is more likely to get in a vehicle with a stranger than someone who is just a runaway. So it cannot be rated higher than a runaway being sexually assaulted while hitchhiking.

Runaways and hitchhikers being targeted by predators was rated as almost certain because people who pick up hitchhikers that they don’t know show behaviors to be predatory in nature. This is depicted through the Case 6 in the hitchhikers section of the literature review where the victim talks about how most truck drivers will molest the hitchhikers they pick up. It is almost a given. It is also depicted through cases 5 and 6 in the runaway section and case 1 in the hitchhikers section, where serial killers and predators targeted them specifically because they would be easier to pick up and dispose of. The chances of being targeted by mentally unstable individuals is higher if the person is a runaway because they keep of the radar. There are also no ties between predators and runaways so during investigations it would not lead back to them.

A runaway being struck by a vehicle while hitchhiking was rated as rare because not a lot of research can be found on it. As an outsider looking in we would think that it would be likely because of the environment they are in and the speeds by which the cars are moving. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Although it is rare it is still possible.  

Runaways selling themselves for money or drugs is rated as likely with females who have been runaways on a long term basis. Based on case evaluations this is done after the person has been a runaway for a longer period of time. This is also done as a survival tactic. They trade themselves for money or sex or even shelter. Which, ties into them being sex trafficked. There is also a large amount of cases where females will meet unknown sex offenders online and end up running away with them. Without realization of who they are and in turn end up being sex trafficked or sexually assaulted. Appendix 5 contains the probability table that depicts the ratings for each scenario and their classification.

D) Impact:  Discussion and Evaluation

An impact table has also been created for this assessment just as the probability table. This includes the classifications of each level. It has four levels: insignificant, minor, moderate, and severe. Insignificant refers to minimal loss; having little to no impact and no physical harm has occurred. Minor impact events are those injuries that do not require immediate medical attention and have a low impact. Moderate refers to injuries that require immediate medical attention or minor mental attention. Severe involves scenarios that require hospitalization and result in fatalities and severe damages whether material or emotional.

Both a runaway being sexually assaulted and a runaway being sexually assaulted while hitchhiking was rated as severe because it will result in injuries that may require hospitalization. It will also effect the individual emotionally very severely. Being targeted by a predator while on the run or hitchhiking was rated as insignificant because being targeted does not mean that the individuals were harmed. It means that they are specifically chosen as victims because of their situations but not all that are targeted are actually harmed. This is depicted through case 6 in the hitchhiking section where Vanessa was targeted when she got into the truck but she was not harmed, she was released. A runaway being struck by a vehicle while hitchhiking was rated severe because the speed at which vehicles travel on the highway it will hit an individual very hard. An impact of that sort will require hospitalization or result in fatalities. Selling themselves for money or drugs was rated as moderate because these do not usually result in hospitalization or fatalities. The individuals who do this are more willing than someone who is sexually assaulted because they give consent. They do it willingly. It was still rated as moderate because it can cause emotional distress to the individual. Even though they give consent they may feel forced because they do not have any other option. Appendix 6 contains the impact table that the team created.

E) Risk Rating

The risk ratings for this assessment have been calculated by multiplying probability by impact. The results can be found in Appendix 7. The risk ratings have been divided into four priority levels. Each scenario corresponds to a priority level. Low risks are those that have a risk rating between 0 and 99. These risks do not require immediate attention. Moderate risks are risks that fall between 100 and 199. In this level some attention should be applied and the risks should be monitored to ensure the risk level does not continue to rise. High risks are those that have a rating between 200 and 299. When a risk falls in this level immediate attention should be applied because the following risk level will ensure loss of life or loss of property. This is referred as the extreme risk level. This is any risk rating that is rated at 300 or above. These risks should have instant attention because the risks refer to fatalities or imminent danger is present. In Appendix 7 a table can be found that lists the risk ratings for each of the five scenarios. They have also been color coded based on its priority level and listed from most to least importance.

F) Recommended Controls

After a thorough analysis of the current controls in place to prevent runaways from being exposed to dangerous situations our recommendations are as follow:

  1. Runaways should be more educated in schools about the risks. It is our judgement that youth do not understand the dangers that arise from running away. They’re focused on finding relief that they do not understand that living on the streets is dangerous.
  2. They should be penalized through community work with organizations that specialize in missing person cases or runaway prevention. If these youth have no punishment for running away it will only become more common because they feel they can get away with it. Penalizing them through community work will be a punishment that is not punitive so it will deter them from doing it again.
  3. The laws should be amended within the system so that parents are not responsible when a child runs away. When an adolescent runs away they make the decision for themselves and the charges should be handled by the adolescent as well.

Enabling a sense of responsibility on these youth will deter them from committing the act. If they are the ones who will endure the punishment then they will be less likely to make impulsive decisions.

Due to the lack of hitchhiking policies a thorough analysis could not be conducted on the risk controls but the team’s recommendations will shine some perspective on the kind that should exist.

  1. A federal policy should be enacted to prohibit hitchhiking. It is dangerous for both the hitchhiker and the drivers who pick them up
  2. The federal policy should also prohibit picking up hitchhikers. In this manner both sides are held accountable.
VI. Summary

Runaways and hitchhikers share many of the same risks due to their constant proximity. Usually a runaway will hitchhike and hitchhikers are usually runways. The current risk controls in place fail to do one thing, and that is to inform youth about these risks. It also fails to implement some kind of punishment to deter the behavior. Educating youth about the risks is one of the strongest controls that can be implemented. Showing them case by case the experiences runaways and hitchhikers have faced will prove that these risks are real. They are not just things seen on television. Therefore, these new controls must be implemented to begin to prevent them from running away in the first place.

The final step of this assessment is the documentation of the team’s findings. Appendix 8 has a table that lists all of the risk ratings for each risk scenario, as well as, the recommended controls.
Reference List

"Autopsy Results Undetermined in Death of Teen Runaway Found in Abandoned Home." WNDU16. N.p., 09 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

"Basic Center Program Fact Sheet." Basic Center Program Fact Sheet. N.p., 7 Apr. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

Brown, Lauren. "Runaway Girl Killed by Train as She Crossed the Tracks While Listening to Music." Mirror. N.p., 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

Facts, Nn4Y Fast. "Unaccompanied Youth." FAST FACTS (n.d.): n. pag. National Network for Youth. Web. 31 July 2015.

"Homeless and Runaway Youth." National Conference of State Legislatures. N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 July 2015.

Manning, Allison. "Abuse Haunted Runaway Teen Found Dead in Columbus." The Columbus Dispatch. N.p., 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 31 July 2015.

Ng, Christina. "California Teen Runaway Found Dead in Motel Room." ABC News. ABC News Network, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 31 July 2015.

"THE RISKS OF RUNNING AWAY." Railway Children Fighting for Street Children. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2015.

Rogers, Jasmine. "Mystery: Teen Found in Ditch Dies." MariettaTimes. N.p., 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

"Running Away." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Ed. Arcy Lyness. The Nemours Foundation, 01 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 July 2015.

"Street Outreach Program Fact Sheet." Street Outreach Program Fact Sheet. N.p., 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

"Transitional Living Program Fact Sheet." Transitional Living Program Fact Sheet. N.p., 7 Apr. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

"United States of America." Hitchwiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fhitchwiki.org%2Fen%2FUnited_States_of_America>.

Veselka, Vanessa. "Robert Ben Rhoades: The Truck Stop Killer." GQ. N.p., 2012. Web. 31 July 2015.

Warder, Robin. "10 Creepy Stories Involving Hitchhiking - Listverse." Listverse. N.p., 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 31 July 2015.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 31 July 2015.

Appendix 1: Structured Analytic Results Synopsis

Divergent and convergent thinking is a brainstorming method. This method is used to allow team members to use their critical thinking skills and be able to “think outside the box.” The first phase is the divergent thinking phase. This is where the team members record all their possible scenarios. All ideas are recorded and written down somewhere all the members can see them. Appendix 1a contains the list our team compiled together while recording the ideas on the computer.

The second phase is the convergent thinking phase. This is where the team categorizes the risk scenarios. The scenarios were categorized into two groups, whether the individual is a runaway or a hitchhiker. This new list can be found in Appendix 1b. It is important to note that some of these scenarios repeat for both categorizes because of situational circumstances.

Appendix 1a: Divergent Results
  1. A runaway suffering malnutrition
  2. A runaway being sexually assaulted
  3. A runaway having to sell themselves for money or drugs
  4. A runaway being forced to use drugs
  5. A runaway being targeted by predators who want to use runaways
  6. A runaway being kidnapped for sex trafficking
  7. A runaway overdosing on drugs
  8. A hitchhiker getting hit be a car
  9. A hitchhiker being picked up by a predator
  10. A hitchhiker being kidnapped for sex trafficking
  11. A hitchhiker being murdered by a predator
  12. A hitchhiker being poisoned by a trucker or predator
  13. A hitchhiker overdosing on drugs
  14. A runaway becoming homeless
  15. A runaway being hit by a vehicle
  16. A runaway being abused
  17. A runaway being robbed
  18. A hitchhiker being sexually assaulted
  19. A hitchhiker being abandoned
  20. A runaway being murdered and disposed of
  21. A runaway being an alcoholic
  22. A runaway dying in a vehicle accident
Appendix 1b: Convergent Results


  1. A runaway suffering malnutrition
  2. A runaway being sexually assaulted
  3. A runaway having to sell themselves for money or drugs
  4. A runaway being forced to use drugs
  5. A runaway being targeted by predators who want to use runaways
  6. A runaway being kidnapped for sex trafficking
  7. A runaway overdosing on drugs
  8. A runaway becoming homeless
  9. A runaway being hit by a vehicle
  10. A runaway being abused
  11. A runaway being robbed
  12. A runaway being murdered and disposed of
  13. A runaway being an alcoholic
  14. A runaway dying in a vehicle accident


  1. A hitchhiker getting hit be a car
  2. A hitchhiker being picked up by a predator
  3. A hitchhiker being kidnapped for sex trafficking
  4. A hitchhiker being murdered by a predator
  5. A hitchhiker being poisoned by a trucker or predator
  6. A hitchhiker overdosing on drugs
  7. A hitchhiker being sexually assaulted
  8. A hitchhiker being abandoned
Appendix 2: Risk Matrix Synopsis

This appendix lists the definitions and legend needed to interpret the risk matrix shown above as Table 1. It defines each level of probability and impact so that individuals can understand why it was assigned that specific level. It also has a legend that shows what variables will fall under each risk level and color. The colors will depict which risks need immediate attention.

To determine the risk ratings, the likelihood variables are multiplied by the impact variables. This is done to each risk scenario to determine the risk rating for each.

  1. Rare – very unlikely, may occur in certain circumstances. It is a possibility but probably won’t.
  2. Unlikely – slight possibility is could occur
  3. Likely – strong possibility; has a history of frequently occurring
  4. Almost certain – very likely; expected to happen in almost all situations


  1. Insignificant – minimal loss; little to no impact; no physical harm
  2. Minor – minor injuries; does not require immediate medical attention; low impact
  3. Moderate – injuries that require immediate medical attention
  4. Severe – injuries that requires hospitalization; includes fatalities and severe damages
Low Risk
Moderate Risk
High Risk
Extreme risk
Appendix 3: Threat Analysis

Table 2 lists the threats, motivations and actions discussed in Section V-A in the report. Threats refer to people or things that pose a danger to the runaways/hitchhikers. The motivations are the reasons for which they commit the act. The actions are the act of the threat exploiting the vulnerability. This list only compiles the threats in association with the five risk scenarios listed earlier in the report.

Table 2 : Threat Analysis

Threat Sources:                         

Mentally unstable


  1. Target runaways and hitchhikers to murder them
Threat Sources:   
 Truck Drivers


Mentally unstable
Sexually abuse them
Threat Sources:   
Hit them as they are walking along the highway
Threat Sources:   
Assets (Themselves)


Selling themselves for drugs
Appendix 4: Vulnerability Analysis

Table 3 lists the vulnerabilities, the source and the actions discussed in Section V-A in the report. These are the weaknesses of the runaways and hitchhikers. The source refers to the people who can use these vulnerabilities against the assets. Those who commit the action. The actions is the vulnerabilities being exploited. This list only compiles the vulnerabilities in association with the five risk scenarios listed earlier in the report.



Truck drivers

Runaways and hitchhikers themselves

  1. Sexually assaulted by a predator or a truck driver
  2. Get struck by  a car
Absence of nutrition


Sell themselves for money and drugs
Absence of housing


  1. Sell themselves for a place to live
  2. Hideout in an abandoned building
 Engaging with strangers


  1. Engage with sex offenders
  2. Engage with truck drivers
Appendix 5: Probability Ratings

Table 4 depicts the risk scenarios and the assigned probability ratings. Each scenario has been assigned a probability level depending on how common the situation is. Below is the probability table and a legend that shows the levels and variables for each level.

Table 4 : Probability Ratings

Risk Scenario:
A runaway being sexually assaulted while hitchhiking
Probability Level:
Almost certain
Probability Variable:
Risk Scenario:
A runaway being sexually assaulted
Probability Level:
Probability Variable:
Risk Scenario:
Runaways and hitchhikers being targeted by predators
Probability Level:
Almost certain
Probability Variable:
Risk Scenario:
A runaway getting struck by a vehicle while hitchhiking
Probability Level:
Probability Variable:
Risk Scenario:
A runaway selling themselves for money or drugs
Probability Level:
Probability Variable:


CLASSIFICATION:                                                                                VARIABLE:
RARE                                                                                                           05
UNLIKELY                                                                                                    10
LIKELY                                                                                                        15
 ALMOST CERTAIN                                                                                      20
Appendix 6: Impact Ratings

Table 5 depicts the risk scenarios and the impact ratings. Each scenario has been assigned an impact level based on the injuries and damages sustained. Below the table and a legend can be found that shows the classification level and its corresponding variable.