Mother speaks out after 15-year-old daughter found dead inside motel room

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GREENFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Sarah Otto will never forget the day two detectives knocked on her door. It was September 19 when she learned her 15-year-old daughter Marissa Otto was dead.

“I lost it; I didn’t want to believe it," Otto said.

A warrant was requested to search the Golden Key Motel in Greenfield, specifically room 202. Marissa was found lying on the bed. When CPR was performed, she started to foam from her mouth. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators say Marissa was a known sex trafficking victim. They say based on the items found in the room, drugs were being used and it may have contributed to her death.

“I believe a friend, unfortunately...so called friend, is the one that got her involved in drugs just a few months ago," Otto said. "She got involved with other people that got her involved in other things, took her out to the streets. It happened really fast."

Dawn Jones is a former Milwaukee Police Department lieutenant. She says sex trafficking is a major issue across the state and so many people sweep it under the rug. 

“Traffickers get stronger and stronger every day. We see them going after our children," said Jones.

Jones said that's why it's important to recognize the signs.

“Traffickers are very good at making it look like it is the victim’s fault, whether it’s abusing a substance, skipping school or having them come home late," said Jones.

If you are a parent Jones says knowledge is power and talking to your child helps.

“You arm yourself with what trafficking is and identify it to get the proper resources," said Jones. 

Otto says a week before Marissa’s death she was trying to get her some help.

“I just got myself into court and got it approved for her for to be at a facility where she couldn’t leave from so she could get the help she needed but it was a little too late.”

Sex trafficking does not discriminate against age, race or gender, Jones said. If you see something that’s strange or raises a red flag, speak out because it just might save the next person’s life.

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