Dallas Girl, 13, Found Locked in North Carolina Shed Used Chatroom Before Abduction, Mother Says

Monitoring children's social media accounts not enough, experts warn

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The mother of the 13-year-old girl kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a man in North Carolina tracked her daughter’s online activity.

“Her email, her passwords, you know, everything we had on our hands, we provided everything to them,” said the girl's mother, who wished to be identified as Esthela.

A digital world of fun and fantasy became a nightmare for Esthela and her family.

According to Esthela, her daughter was last seen in Dallas on March 1. She and her husband reported her daughter as a runaway. However, they never stopped searching.

“We were pinpointing IPs and pinpointing location that we've found clues on,” Esthela said.

The parents had their daughter's email, password and social media usernames. Soon, they discovered their daughter had used a gaming chat app to communicate with her accused predator. Authorities identified the suspect as 34-year-old Jorge Camacho.

“They’re sneaky, sneaky kids. They’re smart,” Esthela said. “It’s very, very terrifying because, you know, we know as parents, we know as adults that this is stranger. You know, he's the stranger in the matter of how you portray yourself. You don't know that person, he's a stranger, you know. Even though he's your friend through that game.”

Richie Simmons, Sheriff of Davidson County, North Carolina, said the nature of the communications between the teen and Camacho was consistent with grooming and enticement.

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Jorge Ivan Santos Camacho is facing a number of felonies after being accused of trafficking a Dallas teenager.

Camacho is facing a number of charges including felonies for child abduction, felonious restraint of a child, human trafficking, rape of a person under 15, and indecent liberties with a child. Camacho, Simmons said, may face additional charges and is being held on bonds totaling $1.25 million.

“If you tell your child that they're friends; they're not your friends unless you've seen them in person, that's a lie,” said Jennifer Hohman, the founder of the organization Fight for Us which helps raise awareness to stop sex trafficking.

“They are creating solid relationships and friendships with people online. So, we have to take precautions,” Hohman said.

According to experts, the first 24-48 hours after a child is reported missing are the most vulnerable as they are exposed to sex traffickers and drug dealers.

“I would just say never give up. Both go to local law enforcement, but also privately have somebody looking for your child, advising you,” Hohman said

A professional can help track IP addresses to discover the user’s digital story.

“An IP address is something that's, like, your physical address for your technology. And so, those are things that we can look at. That digital story looks like, they were chatting with someone, you may have found pictures in their text message or in social media chats or on online gamer chats,” Hohman said. “And you can find out who they were talking to. And that leads you to what I call an alias or an avatar of who was talking to them at a given time.”

Experts warn it is not just about monitoring your child's activity but building a trust-based relationship to learn about the friendship they are creating online.

“Not every kid wants to tell their parent everything. So, you have to have those, either a big sister, a big brother, a cousin, an aunt and uncle or even a close family friend, who will create a trust-based relationship with your kid,” Hohman said. “Your child will tell them things and then they have a kind of a contract that says, 'I'm only going to tell you what your child is telling me when it comes to if there's something at risk.'”

Even when saved, advocates for victims of sexual assault say those children are at-risk.

“When coming back, we know that those kids are the high-risk kids,” said Eli Molina, Director of Forensic Services for the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. “They are the kids that are going to be more likely to talk to another adult who seeks those connections out because they really don't have a sense of belonging with somebody else.”

Molina said therapy is a critical step in the recovery process for victims of sexual assault.

“After a child has been through that traumatic experience. What we really want is the ability for that child to heal and to get justice for whatever situation that they were in,” Molina said. “We offer a variety of services, from a forensic interview to a therapy session to many therapy sessions to a family advocate that's going to be assigned to that child throughout the process of their healing.”

Experts hope this case is eye-opening for parents throughout the North Texas community.

“Parents aren't aware of what their children are doing in their own home, or we might think that trafficking or abduction is not happening in my neighborhood or it's not happening down the street from where I live,” Molina said. “And the reality is that a lot of the times this is happening in our communities, it's happening in our schools, and it's happening to people that we know.”

It is mandated by law that any suspicion of child abuse is reported to the police or the Texas Child Abuse Hotline. Reports may remain anonymous. 

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