Authorities seek information about suspect wanted in sex trafficking case
–The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is releasing new information regarding a human trafficking investigation that began in January. Two people have been arrested for their connection to the case. A third suspect is still outstanding.
The investigation began on Jan 26 when members of the San Luis Obispo County Counter Human Trafficking Team were answering online sex ads as part of the statewide effort to curb human sex trafficking under the umbrella of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.
The San Luis Obispo County Counter Human Trafficking Team is comprised of a senior district attorney investigator from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, a detective and sergeant from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and is assisted by California Highway Patrol/ Coastal Division, FBI, and a non-profit organization, Deliverfund.
Investigators located and responded to a sex ad in which the female in the advertisement appeared to be very young, likely under the age of 18. Ultimately, a “date” was arranged by investigators and the female subject from the photographs in the sex ad was contacted by law enforcement. The female was detained, and after significant investigation, was determined to be a 15-year-old, at-risk missing juvenile out of Nevada. Additionally, investigators identified a male that was in the area, and based upon his behavior, believed to be a possible trafficker of the 15-year-old. Investigators were ultimately able to contact him after he attempted to flee the area. That suspect was identified as 26-year-old Joshua Diante Murphy from Madera, Calif. Upon contacting Joshua Murphy, investigators were able to connect him to the 15-year-old victim at the scene, however, probable cause for his arrest did not exist at the time of the contact, so he was released.
A subsequent investigation of evidence gathered from the victim, Murphy, and third-party sources, led investigators to believe that three subjects, 28-year-old Heather Lynne Hunt from Tipton, Calif, 27-year-old Tremaine Quincy Tejon Jones from Bakersfield, Calif., and Joshua Murphy had been involved in a conspiracy to traffic the 15-year-old victim and to distribute child pornography. Investigators from the San Luis Obispo County Counter Human Trafficking Team worked with prosecutors from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office to seek criminal filing warrants for Heather Hunt, Tremaine Jones, and Joshua Murphy.
On March 18, the San Luis Obispo Superior Courts issued $1,000,000 warrants for Hunt, Jones, and Murphy. Heather Hunt is charged with human trafficking of a victim under 18 years of age, obscene matter depicting a minor for commercial consideration, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Tremaine Jones is charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. Joshua Murphy is charged with human trafficking of a victim under 18 years of age, pimping of a prostitute under 16, lewd act with a child 14 or 15, obscene matter depicting a minor for commercial consideration, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
On March 19, the San Luis Obispo Counter Human Trafficking Team was able to contact Heather Hunt and Tremaine Jones and place both in custody for their warrants. Both Hunt and Jones are currently being held in the San Luis Obispo County Jail with bail set at $1,000,000. Joshua Murphy is still outstanding.
The San Luis Obispo County Counter Human Trafficking Team is seeking the public’s help in locating Joshua Murphy. If you know the whereabouts of Murphy, please call the San Luis Obispo County Counter Human Trafficking Team at (805) 781-4589. You may also provide information to Crime Stoppers via the website, sanluisobispocounty.crimestoppersweb.com, or by calling (805) 549-STOP.