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DeWitt County’s sheriff suspects teen romance motivated a man arrested for harboring a runaway 17-year-old girl Wednesday.

About noon, a deputy discovered the girl was a runaway from Goldonna, La., after noticing suspicious behavior during a routine traffic stop on U.S. 87 near Radio Road, Sheriff Carl Bowen said.

The deputy arrested the driver, 19, on a charge of harboring a runaway, a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable with up to a year in jail and as much as a $4,000 fine.

Bowen said he could not release the girl’s name because he was unsure how her privacy might be protected as a resident of Louisiana.

She was released to the Victoria County juvenile detention center.

As of 4:45 p.m., jail officials were still booking the driver into the county jail, and his identity and mugshot were unavailable, Bowen said.

After contacting the girl’s parents, the investigating deputy learned the girl had not been reported as a runaway to Louisiana authorities.

Bowen said he did not suspect she was the victim of human trafficking or smuggling.

He also said the girl was a former Cuero resident who had moved away about six months ago.

“This is an example of the instinct and skill of our law enforcement officers by knowing that when something just doesn’t seem right to keep searching until you find the truth,” said Bowen in a written statement. “We are very relieved that this juvenile has been found and expect her to be safely returned back to her family.”

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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