Same headline, new day

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Arrowhead Films of Austin, Texas, was seen around town this week filming footage for a new documentary on Human Trafficking, based on the May 1, 2013, Madisonville Meteor headline story “Madisonville Police charges prostitution diva”, as reported by Becky Holland.

Jennifer Kelly, a mid-30s Madisonville resident was arrested, charged and convicted of felony counts of promoting prostitution and trafficking in 2013.  After receiving several reports from the community and a nine-month investigation by the Madisonville Police Department, the arrest was finally made.

Kelly’s method of promoting prostitution was reaching out to “impoverished girls who were searching for help. She offered them a place to stay and slowly reached out to them,” reported Becky Holland, Madisonville Meteor’s Managing Editor, at the time. 

Kelly admittedly gave the girls methamphetamines, saying, “White girls on meth will do anything you ask them to do.” 

As sickening, gut wrenching and heartbreaking as this story is, unfortunately, it still rings true today.  This same story, with new names, new faces and even some of the same old players, is still a growing issue that begs to be taken seriously. 

Human trafficking is a dark, growing reality for millions of men, women and children, not just around the world, not just in the United States, not even just in Texas, but right here in Madisonville.

The production team of Arrowhead Films was sent on a mission to expose the reality that still lingers in even the smallest, most welcoming, kind-hearted country towns across America.

Patrick Fries, the film’s Director, said, “The story all began with one resident who thought she saw something worth being reported.  She said her first inclination was to dismiss the thought as none of her business, but, something told her she needed to make that phone call.”

This resident’s phone call was the piece of the puzzle that was missing to be able to build a solid case against this perpetrator.  The responsibility for creating a safe community doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of the police.  It doesn’t just lie within the walls of a courtroom or fall from the gavel of a judge.  It is the responsibility of each community member, doing his or her part throughout each day to promote a safe, healthy and honest lifestyle.

The case of Jennifer Kelly finally made it to court in October of 2013.  The Attorney General’s office sent aid, specialized in these cases, to assist Madison County District Attorney Brian Risinger in the trial.  By the end of the month, a Madison County jury had convicted Kelly of her crimes and she was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

According to the Madisonville Police Department and the Texas Attorney General’s office, Kelly had facilitated trafficking and prostitution “by offering them a place to live in her home. Then she would set up prostitution engagements between females and the customers, charging both a fee, and kept some of the victims’ funds.”  Investigators found one victim that was recruited and trafficked, had been working for Kelly since the age of fourteen.

Madison County Crime Stoppers is a public service organization to Madison County residents that is available for tipsters to call or text anonymously with information.  There is no physical phone for their number located in Madison County, and through encrypted software, calls and texts are relayed to an information center.

Informants are given a Tipster ID# and are instructed to call back the first Friday of each month to check in and see if their tip has provided information that is rewarded monetarily.

Call (936) 348-3100, or text MUSTANG (274637) with any tips or information regarding illegal activity in Madison County.

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