A 15-year-old girl went missing in the middle of a Dallas Mavericks basketball game on April 8. The teenager was found 11 days later at an Oklahoma City hotel after nude photos of the girl were discovered online in advertisements for sex. The attorney for the family of the girl is now demanding answers about their daughter’s disappearance from the eight suspects alleged to have been involved in a sex trafficking scheme, the Mavericks organization, the Dallas Police Department, and an Oklahoma hotel.
Eight people have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of the North Texas teen. The Oklahoma City Police Department arrested Saniya Alexander, Chevaun Gibson, Thalia Gibson, Karen Gonzales, Sarah Hayes, Steven Hill, Kenneth Nelson, and Melissa Wheeler in connection to the case.
“Gibson is charged with offering to engage in prostitution; Nelson, Hayes, and Gonzales are charged with human trafficking and distribution of child pornography; Hill is charged with rape; Gibson and Alexander have felony warrants; and Wheeler has a robbery warrant,” The Daily Beast reported.
Gonzales is accused of taking the illicit photos of the 15-year-old girl. Hayes allegedly watched the photos being taken and then posted them on internet sex ads. Nelson – a convicted sex offender – reportedly used a fake ID to rent the hotel rooms used in the trafficking.
The photos helped tip off the human trafficking agency Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative in Houston to locate the missing teen.
The family initially pleaded for the Dallas Police Department to help find their missing daughter. However, the Dallas PD reportedly never opened an investigation, according to the family.
The Dallas PD told Fox News that an officer searched American Airlines Center for the missing girl. However, the DPD cited Texas Family Code (51.03 b. 3), which “dictates that missing juveniles are investigated as runaways unless there are circumstances which appear as involuntary such as a kidnapping or abduction.”
“Those cases per code are to be filed where the juvenile resides,” the department said. “A report was generated by Dallas Police and Dallas Police assisted the North Richland Hills Police Department (lead agency as that was where the teen resided) and a bulletin about the missing teen was created and went out to the department on April 11, 2022.”
“Those cases per code are to be filed where the juvenile resides,” the department stated. “A report was generated by Dallas Police and Dallas Police assisted the North Richland Hills Police Department (lead agency as that was where the teen resided) and a bulletin about the missing teen was created and went out to the department on April 11, 2022.”
Meanwhile, the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative tracked down the missing teen in Oklahoma City within the same day by using facial recognition software.
The Oklahoma City Police found the missing 15-year-old at an Extended Stay America hotel – where law enforcement also made arrests on April 18.
The victim’s mother said on May 5, “We are thankful for the work of the Oklahoma City Police Department and the recovery of our daughter. My heart breaks for the unimaginable things my daughter had to endure for the 11 days she was taken, and I am so glad she is safe as we work toward her recovery.”
The family of the victim demand answers from the Dallas Mavericks, the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Police Department, and Extended Stay America as to why they didn’t do more to protect the young girl.
Zeke Fortenberry – the attorney representing the family – said, “Our intent is to put [these organizations] on notice that we’re pursuing claims against them for their negligence and other causes of action.”
Fortenberry issued a statement:
Fortenberry slammed the hotel for not recognizing a potential sex trafficking operation.
“When a 40-something-year-old man walks in with a 15-year-old girl and rents multiple hotel rooms and then there is traffic coming in and out of those rooms, those are red flags,” Fortenberry explained.
Parents of trafficked girl demanding answers from law enforcement officials