Grand jury indicts man on two counts of trafficking of persons in case involving McGregor girls
McLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) - A grand jury formally indicted James Robert Vanhouten, of Georgetown, Texas, on two counts of trafficking of persons in the case of two McGregor girls who ran away from home and allegedly ended up in his garage apartment.
Detectives with the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Unit also arrested two other men in the case. Justin Anthony Phillips, 33, and Ricardo Chaves Arriaga, 24, are both charged with harboring a runaway child.
The girls, both 14 years old, were reported missing on June 28, 2022, and police initially said they did not meet Texas Department of Public Safety criteria for Amber Alerts. On July 4, 2022, however, an Amber Alert was issued for the girls after police were sent a screenshot - reportedly from a Snapchat story by one of the girls - with the message “help.”
Criminal complaint affidavits obtained by KWTX reveal Chaves Arriaga picked up the girls in McGregor and took them to Phillips’ residence in the 1600 block of Cole Street in Bellmead.
When detectives spoke with Chaves Arriaga during the search for the girls, he allegedly lied about picking up the girls and dropping them off at Phillips’ home.
Chaves Arriaga reportedly gave a detective permission to look through his cell phone and the detective allegedly noticed a message from Chaves Arriaga to Phillips in which Chaves Arriaga stated “he had friends in McGregor and he was going to pick them up.”
The girls spent the night at Phillips’ residence, the affidavit states, and the next day Phillips learned via a social media post both girls were runaways.
“Instead of notifying police, Phillips told the victims they had to leave,” the affidavit states, “the victims were then picked up by Vanhouten and transported to Georgetown.”
The girls were rescued from a “garage apartment” at a Georgetown residence shortly after 12 a.m. on July 5, 2022. Vanhouten was arrested after a brief standoff with McLennan County detectives and Georgetown Police Department Officers, the sheriff’s office said.
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