Police: East Texas girls faked their kidnapping that sparked Amber Alert

Crime & Public Safety

SEAGOVILLE, Texas (KETK) – The Seagoville Chief of Police confirmed to KETK News that the Amber Alert sent this week for two missing East Texas girls turned out to be a hoax.

Chief Ray Calverley told KETK in a phone interview that the investigation revealed that the 17-year-old Marina Nelson and 16-year-old Devany Betancourt planned to stage the alleged abduction from the Seagoville Trade Days Flea Market.

They arrived at the market on Sunday around 8:00 p.m. with a friend from one of the girls’ families. When it closed, neither of the girls could be found.

At 11:30 p.m., one of the girls called their mother and said that they were being held against their will and were in grave danger. An Amber Alert was sent out early Monday morning.

Police found that the phone call came from a motel in Dallas, but when police arrived the girls were not there. They also found surveillance video of the girls with two young men that did not appear to show them in trouble or being held against their will.

One of the men was identified as 20-year-old Jose Penaloza-Estrada. Police found him Monday afternoon and in an interview, he told them that he had rented a hotel room in Plano.

Officers went to the motel and found both girls there unharmed. Penaloza-Estrada has been charged with harboring a runaway. The second man’s identity has not been released.

It is unclear as of this writing if the either Nelson or Betancourt will be charged.

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