Missing Augusta Teen Found Safe - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Missing Augusta Teen Found Safe

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Augusta County deputies, and a frightened family, are breathing a huge sigh of relief Tuesday.

Investigators thought a missing teenager had been lured by human traffickers, but she is now home safe and sound.

Late Monday night, investigators tracked a cell phone that Jennifer Carolina Romero was using to an apartment complex in Arlington. That eventually led to a tearful reunion with her parents in Weyers Cave about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The Augusta Sheriff's Office says that Romero, 16, willingly left home on March 2 following a family argument. She was picked up by a 22-year-old man from Arlington who she had "met" on Facebook just two weeks earlier.

The FBI and a task force working the case suspected human trafficking, which forces girls into a life of prostitution or drug-running.

Investigators were concerned because  Romero's Facebook was shut down, her phone was shut off  and she did not communicate with friends and family throughout the week.

"The location where her phone was pinging, certainly deals with those issues of young Hispanic females being lured through Facebook, through other social media," said Paul McCormick of the Augusta County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office says this case could have gone "horribly wrong." Prosecutors may seek court-ordered counseling for Romero.

The man who drove her to Arlington, and spent a week with her there, faces a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Investigators say they'll reevaluate the charge they'd placed against another man, Mynor Franco-Depaz, who appears to have had only phone contact with Romero.

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