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Missing Dallas girl found in Arlington believed to have been sex trafficked, family says

Police said the 15-year-old girl was reported missing on April 27. Her mother said she was being treated at a hospital.

DALLAS — A 15-year-old Dallas girl who had been missing since April 27 has been found, police said Saturday.

Brendetta McDonald, the girl's mother, said there was a rally scheduled for Saturday afternoon to support the continued efforts to find her. When her phone rang early Saturday morning, she thought it was someone calling about the event. 

"I received the call around six," McDonald said. "They said, 'we have your daughter.'"

The call was from Arlington police. The department confirmed to WFAA that the missing teen went into one of the substations around 5:50 a.m. Saturday and identified herself to officers. 

McDonald said she was taken to Medical City Arlington before being transported to Children's Hospital in Dallas, where she received an exam from a sexual assault nurse examiner. 

"She said she was forced into a lot of things she should not have had to endure," McDonald said. 

McDonald said her daughter's hair was dyed, and she's lost weight. She said she couldn't stand to be in the room to hear and see her daughter go through the process of being examined for sexual assault. 

Tonya Stafford, a victim advocate whose organization rescues and provides healing resources for human trafficking survivors, sat by the teen's side. Stafford has been helping McDonald look for her daughter. 

“I sit through a lot of those, and it never gets any easier. Especially when it's pertaining to a child," Stafford said. 

Stafford said she can't share many of the details from teen, as they're being investigated, but she confirmed the teen said she was physically and sexually abused repeatedly. She also confirmed she was sex trafficked. 

"It's horrific, the things that she endured," McDonald said. 

Dallas police said the 15-year-old went missing on April 27. McDonald said she'd been scolded after getting in trouble at school and left their Downtown Dallas apartment building. 

"I figured she was just going to go get herself together," McDonald told WFAA in a previous interview. "I never thought she would disappear. This isn't her."

McDonald said she called Dallas police that evening, but she was told her daughter was considered a runaway because she left willingly.  

Two weeks later, on May 12, DPD later labeled her as "critical missing." McDonald had been placing fliers in areas across Dallas and posting her daughter’s photo on a variety of social media sites. 

She also said she'd received a number of tips about sightings of her daughter around downtown and southern Dallas. She even said she saw a photo of her daughter caught on surveillance footage in a building near the area where her daughter was last seen. 

McDonald said she saw her daughter on camera with multiple adult men.

On Saturday, DPD would only confirm that the teen was found and that the investigation is ongoing. The department would not confirm whether the case is being investigated as a human trafficking case. 

After speaking with the teen, Stafford said her story is not the story of a runaway. She said the girl was "snatched."

"She did walk out but it was to cool off," Stafford said. “She really walked into the hands of a trafficker. They weren’t just waiting on her. They were waiting on anybody and she happened to be the one. She did not run away. she did not turn herself in. She escaped because she was ready. She was trying. She had been trying to get away.”

Stafford's organization, It's Going to be OK!, will now work with McDonald and her daughter to trauma-informed care to help the recovery process. Stafford said the journey will be long but they will make it through. 

“She’s going to get the best care that we can offer her, and we start the healing process," Stafford said. “She’s pretty resilient so she will heal from this as well.”

    

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