ANKENY, Iowa — Quick thinking by a newspaper delivery driver and a convenience store worker may have saved two young women from an alleged sex trafficking ring.
On Monday Channel 13 released information about the arrest of Brittany Walters, an Illinois woman accused of bringing other women to the metro to meet up with potential “johns” or “buyers.”
Ankeny Police Lieutenant Brian Kroska said if newspaper delivery driver Lavon Franz hadn’t called, they might not have found out this was going on.
Lavon Franz said she was delivering newspapers early Sunday morning in Ankeny when all of a sudden a woman in distress waived her down.
“I saw this girl and she was going like this, waving her hands at me and so immediately I started putting up my windows. And she didn’t look like she was distraught or anything, but she looked like she was upset. And I asked her you know, ‘Can I help you? Is there something wrong?’ She goes, ‘I just had a bad break up with my boyfriend.’ She was crying,” Franz said
Franz says at that moment her gut told her something wasn’t right and she noticed the woman didn’t have a purse, identification, or a cell phone.
“She didn’t seem panicky. She just seemed nervous and upset,” Franz said.
Franz said she drove the young woman to a Kum & Go down the road, where the clerk then called the police.
“He called dispatch from there and we got her settled in there because I knew most of the gas stations are ‘safe places,’” Franz said.
After police arrived and interviewed the woman Franz dropped off, it led them somewhere they weren’t expecting.
“That led them across the street to the Quality Inn where they knocked on a few doors and began to put pieces of the puzzle together and that’s when they ended up arresting the suspect with the charges that were filed,” Lt. Kroska said.
Franz said she’s glad she listened to her gut.
“I’m glad she’s safe and that I could help her as much as I could,” Franz said.
Ankeny Police handed the case over to federal investigators.
“We believe that this is tied to some criminal activity possibly occurring in another state which is why we are referring our case on to ICE where they have investigators that work in human trafficking. That group said they’re going to look at the case and see if there’s anything they can help us out with,” Lt. Kroska said.
Two of the victims have been granted no-contact orders against Walters.
Walters is scheduled to be back in court next week.