NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges has confirmed the girl reported missing Monday night has been found safe in Lubbock and the suspect has been arrested.
A car matching the description mentioned in a Wednesday afternoon Amber Alert was found on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock.
A vehicle matching the description, a silver 2004 Volkswagen Passat with Texas license plate DF7T507 was found at Texas Tech across from Covenant.
Bridges said Juan Fabian Arenas Delacruz, 28, of Center, was found working at a job site on the Texas Tech campus. Shortly after he was taken into custody, authorities were able to track down the girl at a nearby motel room.
Noemi Velazquez, 15, was reported missing around 10 p.m. Monday, according to Bridges.
"The mother assumed at the time that she was in some extracurricular activity at the school, so later than evening around 8 p.m., and she couldn't find her daughter there," Bridges said.
Bridges said because Velazquez's family does not speak English, the sheriff's office had to communicate with them through an interpreter.
The Nacogdoches County Sheriff Office worked with the FBI, Texas Department of Public Safety and law enforcement authorities in Lubbock, Texas to find the missing juvenile.
Velazquez, who also goes by "Mimi," was last seen leaving school in Nacogdoches that afternoon and is believed to be with Juan Fabian Arenas Delacruz, 28, of Center. Bridges said they don't know if Velazquez went with Delacruz willingly. All they know at this time is that nothing is missing from her room that would indicate that she had packed for a trip, he said.
Delacruz will be charged with first-degree aggravated kidnapping, Bridges said.
"Delacruz is reported to be an illegal alien who may be a former police officer in Mexico," a press release stated. "Delacruz is not related to the family of the missing juvenile, but became friends with them for a couple of months. In December, the family and Delacruz had a falling out and have not been in contact with Delacruz since that time."
The press release stated that Delacruz works in Louisiana for some type of oil company and has been living in Center.
"Officials have not been able to confirm if Delacruz and the missing juvenile were ever in a relationship together," the press release stated.
Bridges said that Delacruz may have had some kind of fixation on Velazquez.
Bridges said they have received information that the victim in this case has made statements in the past to friends that she was scared of Delacruz.
"We do not have a background on this subject as far as criminal history because we don't know his exact date of birth, and he is an illegal alien," Bridges said.
Although Velazquez's family is cooperating with the investigation, the sheriff's office has only gotten limited information from them. Bridges said the family vaguely knows Delacruz, but he is not related to them.
There is conflicting information about their current location. The Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office says the teen's cell phone was pinged twice Tuesday night in the Lubbock, Texas area, before being turned off around 10 p.m.
A Lubbock Police sergeant said the vehicle was not located after a search of the area. Bridges said someone reported Delacruz in Lubbock Tuesday night, when the suspect stopped at a construction site looking for work. He said there was no indication of whether the person also saw Velazquez.
However, Kansas Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert around the same time after the vehicle was spotted around 7:30 p.m. on Interstate 35 in Lenexa, near Kansas City, Kansas. Velazquez's phone was also pinged around 8:30 p.m., according to TV station KCTV. The Amber Alert was also expanded to include Missouri. The two are believed to be heading northbound on I-35. Bridges said further investigation revealed that the information about Delacruz and Velazquez being in Kansas was incorrect.
According to amberalert.gov, the Amber Alert has been canceled for Kansas and Missouri. The Amber Alert is still in effect for Texas, and Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges said he believes Velasquez and her alleged abductor are still in the Lubbock area.
Bridges explained that the Kansas and Missouri Amber Alerts were canceled because states can only issue the alerts if there is information that leads law enforcement to believe the person is in the area.
Velazquez is 4'11", weighs 120 lbs, and has black hair and brown eyes. At the time of her abduction, she was wearing a white blouse with blue jeans and black tennis shoes. She also wears glasses.
Delacruz is about 5'6", weighing 180 and has some facial hair.
They are believed to be in a silver 2004 Volkswagen Passat with Texas license plates DF7T507.
Anyone with information on their whereabouts should call the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office at (936) 560-7777. People with information may also call the FBI or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"We hope for the best," Bridges said. "We're taking it very seriously and we just don't know. We know that common sense dictates that she has no business being with a 28-year-old male who is not related to her or that are not friends of the family."
Bridges said that indicates to them that Velazquez may be in danger.
"He did not have permission to go with her, and we're presuming that she could be in danger," Bridges said. "That's how we're taking it. Until we can verify differently, we're pulling out all stops to find her, as we would if this was your daughter."
On a related note, Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Velazquez's boyfriend, Franklin Antonio Joya Wednesday after they brought him into the sheriff's office to be interviewed in regard to the ongoing missing person investigation and allegedly found pornographic images of a juvenile on the man's cell phone.
Joya, 20, is still being in the Nacogdoches County Jail on a third-degree felony charge of possession of child pornogrpahy. His bail has been set at $15,000.
According to the arrest affidavit, Joya voluntarily went to the sheriff's office to speak to deputies about the missing teenager. During the course of the interview, the deputies were allowed to look at Joya's phone, and they allegedly found 12 pornographic images of a juvenile on it. Joya was immediately taken into custody and charged with possession of child pornography.