The teen was tracked down 10 days later in an Oklahoma City hotel 200 miles away after the nonprofit Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative contacted by her parents found nude photos of her on a website known for prostitution.
The girl’s parents are heartsick for their child and furious with Dallas police, who they said dismissed their concerns about their missing daughter, according to the family’s attorney, Zeke Fortenberry.
The girl’s father immediately contacted security at the American Airlines Center arena when his daughter went missing, and the parents “repeatedly” contacted Dallas police to find the girl, Fortenberry said in a statement earlier this month.
Dallas police “never began an investigation and failed to make any effort to locate the teenage girl,” nor even bothered to obtain a photograph of her, said Fortenberry.
Police also cited Texas Family Code, which they said “dictates that missing juveniles” be considered “runaways unless there are circumstances which appear as involuntary such as a kidnapping or abduction.” The case was filed in the suburb where the teen lives, some 30 minutes from the stadium, and information was included in the local police bulletin.
“My daughter went missing in the city of Dallas, this is a Dallas case, but they refused to open a case for her,” the girl’s father said.
Fortenberry said that the “systems and organizations involved in this case continually failed the victim. She should never have had contact with the man at the Mavericks game. The Dallas Police should have worked quickly to investigate leads and locate the teenager before she was trafficked to Oklahoma.”
The teen was found by Oklahoma City police after they were alerted about the internet photos by the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative. They arrested the eight suspects last month. A number of them had significant criminal histories.
“These are very bad players we’re talking about,” said Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department.
The suspects have been hit with a variety of charges, from rape, to human trafficking, to distributing child pornography, to offering to engage in prostitution.
“This victim’s life will forever be changed. We hope to hold accountable those responsible and create change within these organizations so that this never happens to any other child,” Fortenberry said in his statement.
The teen’s mom thanked the Oklahoma City police for their help.
“We are thankful for the work of the Oklahoma City Police Department and the recovery of our daughter,” the girl’s mother said. “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 towards her recovery.”