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'They were mistreated very badly' | McLennan County Sheriff says more arrests coming in case of teens who were missing for six days

Authorities say the disappearance of two McGregor teen girls could've been a case of human trafficking. The two girls were found Tuesday morning.

WACO, Texas — *Editor's note: Due to the fact that they are minors, 6 News has removed the names of the two teens who were at the center of this now-expired Amber Alert.* 

More charges and arrests are to be expected in connection to the disappearance of two McGregor girls, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said during a news conference Tuesday.

Both girls, 14, were found in Georgetown early Tuesday morning. They were first reported missing on June 29.

McLennan County Detective Joseph Scaramucci said they were with James Robert Van Houten, 30, who was arrested in this case. Van Houten was charged with two counts of harboring a runaway child. McNamara said Van Houten would likely face additional charges.

During a news conference Tuesday, McNamara said there were multiple people involved in the girls' disappearance. 

"It's very sad. They were in a very dangerous situation with several different people," McNamara said. "We have reason to believe they were mistreated very badly." 

McNamara said the girls were taken to at least five homes including in Bellmead, Belton and Georgetown.

"This never should have happened to these young ladies," McNamara said. "They were in dire straits. A very very bad situation."

McNamara did not identify any of the other people authorities believe were involved but he said they know who they are. He said this could have been a case of human trafficking.

"We're coming to get you," McNamara said about the other people authorities believe were involved.

Scaramuci confirmed to 6 News on Monday one of the girls sent a Snapchat message that read "help" on Sunday night, which was enough to launch an Amber Alert.

Scaramucci said Van Houten has no relation to the two teens. He said Van Houten picked them up in Bellmead where they were with another person.

McGregor Police, the FBI, Texas Rangers, Georgetown Police and the McLennan County Sheriff's Office Human Trafficking Unit were all involved in the investigation.

McNamara said he did not know if the girls were injured. They were returned to their families once they arrived back in McLennan County. 

McNamara said this may have started as a case of two runaways, but quickly turned into a much worse situation.

Van Houten posted bond and was released from the Williamson County Jail, according to jail records.

RELATED: Amber Alert canceled | Missing McGregor teens found in Georgetown, one man in custody

Credit: Williamson County Jail
James Van Houten arrested in connection to missing McGregor girls
Credit: McLennan County Sheriff's Office
James Robert Van Houten, 30, is suspected of harboring the two missing girls from McGregor.

RELATED: FBI joins search for McGregor teens at center of AMBER Alert

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