Sheriff Thinks Missing Teen Caught In Trafficking

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher is preparing for the worst case scenario in the search for Jennifer Romero. She's been missing since Saturday. Signs point to sex trafficking.

Fisher said during a press conference that his deputies don't have much experience dealing with cases like this. They're using resources from the FBI and Virginia's Attorney General for advice.

"She'll do whatever they tell her to do just to survive," said Fisher. "Whether it be prostitution, or running drugs or whatever. Normally, in this type of case, a 16 year old female, is used as a sexual object."

Jennifer Romero's Facebook boyfriend lives in Arlington.
Another Facebook friend, a 19 year old illegal immigrant from Guatemala named Mynor Franco-DePaz, was behind bars without bond as of Friday. He allegedly drove Jennifer to meet her boyfriend. The boyfriend said she never showed up.

Fisher said it could have all been a big scam to transport her somewhere else.

"It's kind of like a fisherman. He's got a hundred different hooks out there in the water, communicating with different females. You just wait until one of them takes the bait."

After her disappearance, Jennifer's cell phone was turned off and her Facebook was deactivated. Both call to mind trafficking cases in other parts of the country.

Investigators have been actively using resources like Backpage, a resource well known for illegal sex services.

"They cut off all contact that the person had with their family and friends," said Fisher. "This case, the Facebook has been reactivated as of last night. We do not believe it's Jennifer. It's a way of throwing the dogs off."

Romero's family said not knowing where she is or if she is safe is getting more and more frustrating.


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