Teen rescued from suspected sex trafficker, but family angered by police response

The teen’s mother said Memphis police were no help in locating her daughter

Just a week after a massive sex trafficking bust in the city, a Memphis teen was rescued from a suspected human trafficker, who is now being held in Mississippi on $1 million bail.

The 17-year-old girl’s mother reported her missing on February 1, and the mother was frustrated by what she believed to be a slow response from the Memphis Police Department. When the mother first reported her daughter missing, she reportedly told responding police officers that the teenager, who will not be named as she is a minor, had threatened to run away in the past but had not gone through with it. Police waited two days to issue a City Watch — similar to an Amber Alert, to raise public awareness about a missing child who is believed to be endangered or in imminent danger of bodily harm.

A woman believed to be the victim’s grandmother spoke out on Facebook in the days following the girl’s disappearance, first about the family’s struggle to get the police to issue an Amber Alert or City Watch alert, then about the lack of media coverage once the City Watch was issued.

Memphis Police Department spokesperson Louis Brownlee defended the choice to issue a City Watch on February 3, when he said it first became apparent that the teenager was in danger.

“The Memphis Police Department acted on the information it was given,” Brownlee told Crime Online.

Initially, he said, “the complaintant advised that she had thought about leaving before … so we conducted a missing person’s investigation,” and police searched the area.

Two days later, Brownlee said, police received conflicting information from family members about the missing girl’s well-being.

“One family member said she was okay, another said she was worried,” Brownlee said. The police then decided to issue the City Watch.

But ultimately, the alert was not what led to the girl’s rescue.

The victim’s mother told WMC Action 5 News that the girl’s cousins made contact with her via social media, and agreed to meet her and the two men now believed to be her kidnappers. (One of those men is a juvenile.) The cousins reportedly got into a car with the three of them, and drove into neighboring Mississippi. A cousin then contacted the victim’s mother to let her know their location, and the mother called the Hernando Police Department.

“No credit goes to MPD because they didn’t want to take my story first,” the mother told Fox 13 Memphis.

According to WMC Action 5 News, Hernando Police pulled the car over near Interstate 69 and Interstate 55 early Sunday.

Brownlee could not comment on the specifics of the girl’s rescue and the suspects who were taken into custody as all of the involved parties were outside of the jurisdiction of Memphis police at that time. Hernando Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Darnell Davis, 31, is now being held on $1 million bond in the De Soto County jail, according to Fox 13 Memphis.  Investigators are reportedly treating the crime as a sex trafficking operation.

Late last month, Memphis police arrested more than 40 people in a major sex trafficking bust. Th sting operation, dubbed “Someone Like Me,” also rescued two juveniles believed to be held as sex slaves. According to Fox 13 Memphis, 475 men responded to online sex ads posted by undercover officers.



Photo: Desoto County Jail