LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Two Texas residents have been arrested in connection with a 14-year-old runaway, whom authorities say was brought to Texas for sexual purposes.
Lake Charles police officers began investigating on Feb. 13, after receiving a report of a 14-year-old runaway, according to Capt. Kevin Kirkum, spokesman for the Lake Charles Police Department.
Investigators learned that a man had used a social media site to entice the 14-year-old to get picked up by a woman and be brought to Texas to engage in sexual activity, Kirkum said. The girl was brought to Austin, Houston, and Beaumont, Texas, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, he said.
Detectives found the girl on Feb. 23, at an apartment complex in Houston, Texas, with another juvenile, Kirkum said.
Kevondric Fezia, 26, and Calista Winfrey, 23, both of Orange, Texas, were arrested on March 3, in Beaumont. Both face one count of trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Winfrey faces an additional count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Both were transferred to Calcasieu on March 18 and are being held without bond.
The news comes as a shock to some of the victim’s General Middleton Street neighbors, who have young children themselves.
“I never knew that happened here,” Ivan Boutte said.
“It’s on the rise, not just here; but this is a nationwide trend that young kids are getting trafficked,” according to Kirkum. “Like I said, it’s usually those kids that run away from home. They either running to something or running from something, and they get caught up and in over their head.”
Police and parents are now urging others to still work to keep children safe as they let go of your hand and grow up.
“Letting her come outside alone, I don’t do it,” Boutte said. “I always make sure an adult is outside accompanying her, because I’ve been hearing a lot of Amber Alerts going on. I just want her safe, and things happen quick.”
“In the world of tweets and Twitter and social media, try to understand who your children are talking to. Monitor them so that they don’t get caught up,” Kirkum said. “Try to pay close enough attention so that if something unfortunate does happen, at least it gives us a starting point of where to start looking.”