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Grand jury indicts man on two counts of human trafficking in McGregor girls case

MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KWTX)- A grand jury formally indicted James Robert Vanhouten of Georgetown, Texas on two counts of human trafficking in the case of two McGregor girls who ran away from home and allegedly ended up in his garage apartment.

Detectives from the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Unit also arrested two other men in connection with the case. Justin Anthony Phillips, 33, and Ricardo Chavez Arriaga, 24, are accused of harboring a runaway child.

Both 14-year-old girls were reported missing on June 28, 2022, and police initially said they did not meet the Texas Department of Public Safety’s criteria for Amber Alerts. However, on July 4, 2022, an Amber Alert was issued to the girls after a screenshot – reportedly from one of the girls’ Snapchat story – was sent to police with the message “help.”

Criminal affidavits obtained by KWTX show that Chávez Arriaga picked up the girls at McGregor and drove them to the Phillips residence in the 1600 block of Cole Street in Bellmead.

LEFT TO RIGHT: James Robert Vanhouten, Justin Anthony Phillips and Ricardo Chavez Arriaga.(KWTH)

When detectives spoke to Chavez Arriaga during the search for the girls, he allegedly lied about picking up the girls and dropping them off at Phillips’ house.

Chávez Arriaga reportedly gave the detective permission to look through his mobile phone, and the detective allegedly noticed a message from Chávez Arriaga to Phillips in which Chávez Arriaga stated that “he had friends at McGregor and he was going to pick them up.”

The girls spent the night at Phillips’ residence, the affidavit says, and the next day, Phillips learned from a social media post that both girls had run away.

“Instead of notifying the police, Phillips told the victims they had to leave,” the affidavit says, “then Vanhouten picked up the victims and took them to Georgetown.”

The girls were rescued from a “garage apartment” in a Georgetown residence shortly after 12:00 pm on July 5, 2022. Vanhouten was arrested after a brief standoff with McLennan County detectives and officers from the Georgetown Police Department, the sheriff’s office said.

James Robert Vanhouten, 30, of Georgetown, Texas, was arrested shortly after two of McGregor's girlfriends...
James Robert Vanhouten, 30, of Georgetown, Texas, was arrested shortly after two of McGregor’s girlfriends were discovered in his garage apartment. (ONLY KWTX)

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