OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – According to reports, eight suspects were arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl at a Dallas Mavericks game and subsequent sex trafficking of the victim out of Oklahoma.
Earlier in May, Red Voice Media reported on a horrific scenario where a 15-year-old girl went to use the restroom while attending a Mavericks game with her father on April 8th at the American Airlines Center, only to never return from the restroom.
At the time of the incident, the young girl’s father reported his missing daughter to an on-site police officer at the American Airlines Center. However, officers at the venue informed the distraught father he needed to report the matter to North Richland Hills Police, due to that being where the family resides, after a brief search for the teen girl turned up empty.
Subsequent surveillance footage would reveal the victim being taken out of the venue by an adult male.
What took place thereafter could reasonably be described as being given the runaround treatment from local law enforcement. On the evening of the kidnapping, the father of the victim reported the incident to North Richland Hills Police – but police claimed that the father needed to report the incident to Dallas Police since that is where the incident actually occurred.
An attorney representing the family, Zeke Fortenberry, claimed this whole debacle left the family “frustrated.” Furthermore, the family of the victim alleges that Dallas Police treated the incident with little urgency, not even asking for a picture of the missing teen and initially treating the case as a “runaway.”
After days of nothing turning up, the family of the missing girl contacted a Houston-based agency dubbed Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative, which the agency specializes in human trafficking matters. On the same day of making contact with the Houston agency, they found the pictures of the victim nude in an online sex trafficking advertisement out of Oklahoma City.
Come April 18th, ten days after the victim was reported missing, authorities in Oklahoma City located the victim at an Extended Stay America hotel. At the time of the victim’s discovery, Oklahoma City Police arrested eight individuals, identified as Saniya Alexander, Melissa Wheeler, Chevaun Gibson, Kenneth Nelson, Sarah Hayes, Karen Gonzales, Thalia Gibson, and Steven Hill.
Nelson, Hayes, and Gonzalez have been charged with human trafficking and distribution of child pornography, Hill was charged with rape, and Thalia Gibson was charged with offering to engage in prostitution.
The three other suspects arrested, Chevaun Gibson, Alexander, and Wheeler, were booked on outstanding warrants.
Fortenberry is assisting the family with a lawsuit that names numerous parties, among them being the Dallas Police Department, American Airlines Center, and the Extended Stay Hotel where the teen was being trafficked out of.
In a statement regarding the suit, Fortenberry alleged that multiple entities had “failed” the young girl seemingly at every turn, thus prolonging her abuse and exploitation at the hands of her captors.
“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 Extended Stay America hotel in Oklahoma City put profits ahead of people by turning a blind eye to the sexual exploitation occurring right before their eyes. 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.”