Sgt. Noel Houze, Indiana State Police Versailles District public information officer, said sex trafficking “is something rarely investigated” by the agency.
Batesville Police Chief Stan Holt said the Imagine Foundation has not shared Batesville phone numbers and places for investigative purposes. He noted, “The report indicates they referenced Batesville due to the 812 area code, which covers a large portion of southeastern Indiana. I believe it would be beneficial for the foundation to work closer with law enforcement on their findings.”
What evidence or situations that involve sex trafficking should area residents be looking for and report to police? The chief replied, “I believe most citizens, especially parents, have that natural instinct to recognize when a situation or activity just doesn’t look right. I would recommend they notify law enforcement immediately when they have the slightest suspicion of criminal activity.”
Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills reported, “A lot of the human trafficking training I’ve been to over the past few years says to pay attention to the way homes are kept. If the windows are boarded up, (there’s) not much traffic or too much traffic and people coming and going from the home. If people are out in the community with two or three girls and they’re not allowed to talk to people, those would be indicators something’s not right.” Please see sidebar for more signs of the crime.
According to Houze, “I have checked our database and the best I can find is only one human trafficking investigation conducted by ISP in the last few years and I believe this is still an ongoing investigation in another area of Indiana that began early last year.”
Indiana State Excise Police investigator Tim Sutton, who works in southeast Indiana, observed when these cases are discovered, they are “very complex. You have to track money.”