By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Law enforcement personnel have arrested two suspects and are searching for a third in the case of a previously missing 15-year-old girl from Nevada who was being sex trafficked in San Luis Obispo County.
Investigators are searching for the teen’s alleged pimp, whom they caught earlier this year, but then released, citing a lack of probable cause. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s officials say the trio of suspects, each from California, conspired to traffic the teen and distribute child pornography.
On Jan. 26, the San Luis Obispo County Counter Human Trafficking Team, CHP officers and FBI agents were answering online sex ads as apart of a statewide effort to curb sex trafficking. Detectives answered a sex ad in which the female appeared in her photograph to be under the age of 18, according to the SLO County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives arranged a meeting with the female under the pretense it would be a “date.” The female arrived and investigators detained her. After significant investigation, detectives determined the female was a 15-year-old missing and at-risk girl from Nevada.
Investigators also identified a male suspect in the area, who based on his behavior, was possibly a trafficker of the girl. The suspect realized he was being surveilled by law enforcement and attempted to flee, but officers located him.
Detectives determined the suspect, Joshua Diante Murphy, 26, of Madera was connected to the girl, but released him because probable cause for his arrest did not exist at the time.
A subsequent investigation led detectives to believe Murphy conspired with 28-year-old Tipton Heather Lynne Hunt of Tipton and 27-year-old Tremaine Quincy Tejon Jones of Bakersfield to traffic the 15-year-old girl and distribute child pornography. The Counter Human Trafficking Team then worked with the SLO County District Attorney’s Office to seek criminal filings against Murphy, Hunt and Jones.
On March 18, a San Luis Obispo judge issued $1 million warrants for the three suspects. The following day, the human trafficking team managed to contact Hunt and Junes and take them into custody for their warrants.
Both Hunt and Jones are currently in San Luis Obispo County Jail with their bail set at $1 million each. Hunt is facing charges of human trafficking of a victim under 18 years old, obscene matter depicting a minor for commercial consideration and conspiracy to commit a crime. Jones is facing a lone charge of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Still on the loose, Murphy faces charges of human trafficking of a victim under 18, pimping a prostitute under 16, lewd acts with a child 14 or 15, obscene matter depicting a minor for commercial consideration and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Authorities are requesting help from the public in locating Murphy. Anyone who knows his whereabouts is asked to contact the Counter Human Trafficking Team at (805) 781-4589 or call Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-STOP.