Sheriff: Missing McGregor girls ‘treated badly’ and ‘very happy to be rescued’
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Deputies with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division and Human Trafficking Unit tracked two missing McGregor teenagers to Georgetown, where authorities arrested James Robert Vanhouten, 30, the man allegedly harboring them, Sheriff Parnell McNamara confirmed to KWTX.
Emiliee Solomon, 14, and Aysha Cross, 14, had been missing since June 28 and police initially said they did not meet Texas Department of Public Safety criteria for Amber Alerts. On Monday, July 4, however, an Amber Alert was issued for the girls after police were sent a screenshot - allegedly from Cross’ Snapchat story - with the message “help.”
Investigators pursued several leads that led them to a home in McGregor, then another residence in Bellmead, onto Belton in Bell County, back to McGregor and eventually to Vanhouten in Williamson County. “The (deputies) did an unbelievable amount of work on it. That’s really good work on their part,” McNamara said.
Vanhouten will be charged with harboring a minor in Williamson County, McNamara said, and more arrests are very likely.
The sheriff said Solomon and Cross ran away from home and “fell in with some bad people and went from place to the next and they were kept in some pretty bad places.”
“We have reason to believe they mistreated very badly and we are looking into that and we are going to be filing charges and there will be other arrests made,” McNamara said.
The girls, who were “very happy to be rescued,” according to the sheriff, were reunited with family members early Tuesday morning.
McNamara said several individuals were involved and investigators “know who they are.”
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