Hotel worker saves sex trafficking victim in Vadnais Heights, is awarded for awareness

Helping guests is a big part of the job for Eve Tao.

It's mostly booking rooms and answering questions at the front desk of the Comfort Inn and Suites in Vadnais Heights. But last summer, the 22-year-old's attention and intuition helped save a woman's life.

On a morning in mid-July, a woman discreetly passed something to Tao. She initially thought it was trash, but something made her take a second look. 
It was a note scribbled on the hotel's stationary. Tao recalls what it said.

"I am not from here. He is my boyfriend. He's sex trafficking me. She doesn't have her phone, her wallet, her ID or any of that," said Tao, recalling what the note said. She immediately called law enforcement. 

"I knew that if I called, he would possibly come after me and I was pretty scared," said Tao. 

The Minnesota BCA-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force spearheaded the investigation, and Larry Konah, 27, was arrested. He's now behind bars, serving a 3.5 year prison sentence.

On Tuesday morning, the Arden Hills-Shoreview Rotary Club recognized Tao's courage with a special award.

Also at the ceremony was Special Agent Rachel Pearson, who is the commander of the BCA-led task force. She says recognizing the signs of human trafficking is critical for hospitality workers, who may be the first to notice when something isn't right.

"Is that person that's with them holding all of their property, making all of the decisions? Do you see a lot of traffic going in and out of the hotel rooms where they are staying?" said Pearson, who also commended the victim for their bravery in taking action.

Shortly after receiving the award, Tao was already back to work. She says she is grateful she was able to play a small, but pivotal part that day.

"If I didn't do anything, God knows where she would be right now," said Tao.