17-year-old kidnapping, sex trafficking victim initially classified as runaway

HERNANDO, MS (WMC) - A Memphis mother is relieved her 17-year-old daughter is home safe after being kidnapped. However, she's angry at Memphis Police Department who she said didn't do enough to help rescue her child from kidnappers and those who forced her into prostitution.

The man suspected of kidnapping her daughter, now faces human kidnapping charges.

Gena Hodges said her daughter went missing from their Frayser home last week.

"It kills me to know my baby had to go through this, but I am so glad she's home," Hodges said.

She said her 17-year-old daughter was kidnapped from her home and forced into prostitution.  Over the past four days, investigators in multiple counties searched for the teenager.

"She was drugged, so that's harm enough," Hodges said.

Hodges said police dismissed her claim that her daughter had been kidnapped.

"I notified the police department, nothing was done. They just kept telling me it was a classic runaway case. No investigation was done. No Amber Alerts were sent out, nothing to benefit my child at all," Hodges said.

She said her family members had to step in and go 'undercover' to rescue her daughter.

"MPD dropped the ball. Really dropped the ball when it comes to my baby," Hodges said.

Memphis Police Department said the initial information given to them on February 1 by Hodges said the teenager "threatened to run away in the past, but has never left." Police later received information on Friday from a family member who said they talked to the victim and she was OK. Another family member that day said she might be in danger.

A City Watch was issued when they said the child could be in danger.

MPD released its criteria for issuing a City Watch in response to the family's conference.

A City Watch is issued on any missing, runaway, or throwaway child (child who is kicked out by caretaker) who is endangered or in imminent danger of bodily harm. The City Watch System will also be used to locate endangered missing adults.  These adults may be lost due to extenuating circumstances that could result in life threatening situations, i.e. Alzheimer's patients, endangered lost, or other threatening criteria that necessitate immediate community notification.

Over the weekend, two of the girl's cousins used Facebook to track down the teen in Mississippi, where she said she was being held against her will. The cousins then drove to Mississippi, contacted Hernando Police Department, and got the man believed to be holding the teen against her will arrested on different charges.

Hodges said her daughter sent them Snapchats and information while she was kidnapped.

Darnell Davis, 31, is in jail and being investigated for forcing the 17-year-old into prostitution.

Hernando Police Department said Davis is in custody for traffic violations. Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is assisting local and state law enforcement agencies investigate Davis' connection to the 17-year-old's kidnapping.

DeSoto County Sheriff's Department said Davis is from Natchez, Mississippi. He has no prior arrests in Shelby County, Tennessee.

He is behind bars in DeSoto County Jail on a $1 million bond with the following charges:

  • Human trafficking
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • Suspended driver's license
  • No insurance
  • Failure to register his vehicle
  • Reckless driving

The group that worked to bring the child back home said they are happy she is home safe, but they are angry with Memphis Police Department. They said the police are not doing enough to protect the citizens and keep them safe.

"My child was taken because she's not going to runaway. My door was left open. My child was taken," Hodges said. "You should listen to mothers because we know."

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