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Katy Girl, Ashlee Hattermann, 13, is Found Safe in Mexico: Likely to Have Been Groomed by Sex-Traffi


December 4, 2017

Katrina Katsarelis

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said Sunday evening that Ashlee Hattermann was found safe in Mexico. The Harris County Sheriff's Office thanked other law enforcement agencies for their assistance in locating the eight grader.

The search began on Friday, Dec. 1 after Ashley did not return home from school.Her mother, Tiffany Hattermann, said she dropped the 8th grader off at Thornton middle school on Friday morning. The school called that afternoon and said Ashley was not in school and had missed several classes. Tiffany Hatterman said the only slightly unusual thing that happened that day was when Ashlee said, "I love you mom" as she got out of the car at school that morning. This was not Ashlee's normal goodbye.

(Photo: Thornton Middle School, Katy, TX)

Getting to the Greyhound bus station

It is not known how Ashlee got from school to the Greyhound bus station, located at 653 Pin Oak Road, approximately 11 miles away. Walking to the location would've taken Ashlee over three hours. Thornton middle school is located on Keith Harrow Boulevard in Katy Texas but is in the CyFair ISD school district.

{Photo below: The Greyhound bus location at a Katy Food Mart.)

How she stayed in touch with predator

Last May, the Hattermann's discovered their daughter was exchanging graphic photos and messages with a man through her phone, by using covert apps. Ashlee told her parents he was a 29 year old man from Mexico. The couple reported it to the Harris County Sheriffs Office and took away their daughter's phone which was turned over to authorities for evidence. Reports state the parents just learned that Ashlee had continued to surreptitiously communicate with the man possibly using a different phone in her school library.

Classic Signs of Sex-Trafficking

According to Kelly Litvak, a Katy-based anti-sex trafficking advocate and founder of Childproof America, predators are more skilled at grooming teens and teaching them how to outsmart their parents than they are trained to resist them. "A 13-year old is no match for a predator who can easily earn over six figures annually off your child," says Litvak. "Parents must have a true respect and understanding of the reality of sex trafficking and remove the attitude of, 'not my kid.'" Because of this attitude, she says, suburban communities like Katy are being targeted by predators who are "methodical, strategic and extremely patient". She cautions parents not to assume their children are safe from these dangers just because the kids come from a two-parent, happy home because it can happen to any family, anywhere, and does every day. After Ashlee disappeared, her parents were alarmed to find a handwritten note in her room that stated 'Daddy owns my body and my soul,' over and over. Litvak says this is a typical form of brainwashing and control.

Surveillance of Ashlee at the Greyhound Bus at the Foot Mart location

Talked into buying her a ticket When Ashlee arrived at the Greyhound bus station, she asked an unidentified woman to buy her a bus ticket by telling the woman that she was in Katy visiting her boyfriend and needed to get back home to her parents in Laredo, Texas. Ashlee convinced the woman she was 18 years old and the woman believed her due to the child's mature appearance. (Ashlee is 5'7" and weighs 130 pounds.) The woman who bought the ticket then saw the social media posts about Ashlee and contacted authorities. Litvak suspects that Ashlee was likely coached by the child predator about how to convince someone to buy her ticket, who would most likely buy it, and how to get to the Greyhound bus station. (Photo: Surveillance photo of Ashlee at the Greyhound station.)

Had the woman not come forward, there may not have been a break in the case. Authorities learned that Ashlee's bus was on its way to Laredo, Texas. According to the FBI, surveillance cameras captured Ashley crossing the border into Mexico late Friday night.

Ashlee's story went viral on social media and received several thousand shares across Texas, including many citizens in Laredo providing helpful tips. Updates on the rescue will be provided as we know them. We reached out to the Hattermann family to comment about the rescue but understandably they have not responded yet.

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