Kidnapped Girls Found Safe in Atlanta
Wednesday, July 18, 2007; 6:10 PM
Two teenaged girls from Herndon were kidnapped Monday -- and found safely in Atlanta today -- and Fairfax County police are investigating whether their abductors planned to sell them to a prostitution ring, authorities said.
Police began looking for the girls Monday evening, and called in help from federal marshals and the FBI when it became apparent that the teens had not run away and were possibly being held against their will. The authorities eventually pinpointed a house in Mableton, Ga., a suburb west of Atlanta, and found the girls and their alleged abductors about 3:30 a.m. today, police Officer Camille Neville said.
The teenagers, aged 16 and 17, were not harmed, Neville said. Fairfax police obtained warrants charging Javier Ronal, 21, of Dumfries, Erick Estrada, 23, of no fixed address, and a 17-year-old Dumfries girl with two counts each of abduction with the intent to defile. All three were being held in Cobb County, Ga., pending extradition hearings.
Police said the teenagers spent Sunday night together, at a home near Mager Drive and Parcher Avenue, and the 16-year-old's father discovered the girls missing on Monday morning. He contacted the other girl's father.
The parents tried to locate their daughters, then called police around 6 p.m. Monday. By Tuesday, as police learned that the girls may have been taken out of Northern Virginia, federal investigators were summoned.
The girls knew at least one of the two men charged in the case, said Barry Boright, a supervisor with the U.S. Marshals' Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, "and originally they were with them willingly."
But at some point, Boright said, "things appeared to have changed. These girls were going to be sold into prostitution in Florida."
Investigators are trying to determine if at least one of the men was associated with the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, Boright said.
The girls were allowed to make phone calls at some point, Boright said, and alerted their families that they had been abducted. Federal marshals soon enlisted another fugitive task force, the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Atlanta, to help with the search.
Police did not issue an Amber Alert, a widely broadcast message to help find missing children quickly, because "we had so many good leads that we feared that putting out a release or Amber Alert might send these people into hiding," Neville said.
Investigators in the Atlanta area dug up some possible addresses where the suspects might be, and when task force members entered the house early today, they found 10 people inside, Boright said.
The girls remained in the Atlanta area today pending state proceedings to examine their welfare and security. Fairfax police today were planning to travel to Atlanta, and "we intend to investigate it thoroughly," Neville said.