Missing Texas girls found safe, suspect in custody

Photo still of the logo for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Photo still of the logo for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.(NCMEC)
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 12:15 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:04 AM CDT
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MCGREGOR, Texas (KWTX/Gray News) - Two Texas teens who went missing last week have been found and a suspect is in custody.

Three deputies with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office found the teenagers in Georgetown, Texas, and arrested James Robert Vanhouten, 30, the man allegedly harboring them, Sheriff Parnell McNamara confirmed to KWTX.

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday morning issued an Amber Alert for two Central Texas girls missing for days.

McGregor authorities are searching for Emilee Solomon, 14, and Aysha Cross, 14, who went missing on Tuesday, June 28.

On Saturday, McGregor police Lt. Ron McCurry said the disappearances of Emilee Solomon and Aysha Cross did not meet Department of Public Safety criteria for Amber Alerts, but added the situation is troubling because most young people in these situations are returned home safely within eight to 12 hours.

KWTX on Monday confirmed with the McGregor Police Department that the case was upgraded to an Amber Alert when police were sent a screenshot from Cross’ Snapchat story with the message “help.”

“We are following all leads and doing everything we can to find these young girls,” McCurry said.

Volunteers and friends of the girls were searching parks in McGregor and other locations Saturday in an effort to find the teens.

Sara Dunn, Emilee Solomon’s stepmother, said the girls became best friends “instantly” after getting together shortly before school ended for the summer. Emilee spent Wednesday night at Aysha’s house and called to ask if she could stay longer. Later, she called to say an uncle was picking her up, but that did not occur, Dunn said.

In the days following, Dunn and Aysha’s mother, Shannon Valles, have done everything they can think of to find the girls. However, their efforts also included trying to correct misinformation put out on social media and other outlets, Dunn said.

Anyone with additional information about this is asked to call McGregor police at 254-840-2855 or dial 911.

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