Jefferson County Indicts Three from Orange County

Published 1:56 pm Saturday, April 27, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


A Jefferson County Grand Jury indicted 61 cases on Wednesday including three from Orange County. Trafficking of a 12-year-old also results in multiple indictments.

Esteban Garza Jr, 31, of Vidor, was indicted for two counts of aggravated assault for an incident, which occurred March 13, 2019. Graza, according to the affidavit for an arrest warrant, repeatedly struck another vehicle with his vehicle. The charges are second-degree felonies.

Todd Higginbotham, 53, of Vidor, was indicted for assault of a public servant, a third-degree felony. Higginbotham grabbed a nurse, in the emergency room in Port Arthur, by her neck with both his hands and picked her up off the ground, according to the affidavit for an arrest warrant.

Yelena Jeane Womack, 40, of Orange, was indicted for possession of a controlled substance, a state jail felony. Womack was stopped for disregarding a stop sign September 24, 2018. During the stop, the officer learned she had outstanding warrants in Orange County. While en route to the jail, Womack informed the office she had concealed illegal narcotics inside her anus, according to the affidavit for an arrest warrant. Once at the hospital, she removed the off white rock-like substance, she was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.

Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham and Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary announced today that a Jefferson County Grand Jury returned indictments on three individuals involved in the trafficking of a 12-year-old female. The indictments are the result of a joint investigation involving the Beaumont Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

On January 30, 2019, officers with the Beaumont Police Department responded to a call for service at the intersection of Walden Road and Fannett Road in Beaumont, Texas, in reference to a local 12-year-old runaway. Officers received credible information from several witnesses at this location that led them to believe the child was currently being trafficked.  Detectives from BPD’s Narcotics Unit, Special Crimes Division, and the Special Assignment Unit, as well as agents from Homeland Security Investigations,  responded to the scene. Detectives located an online ad that offered sex with the child in exchange for money. Detectives made contact with an unknown individual to set up a “date” for the child at a local motel.  Detectives conducted a sting operation in which they safely recovered the child. She was immediately taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital for medical treatment and a forensic medical exam.

Toni Davis, 25, of Beaumont, Texas, and Arthur Gilder, 23, of Beaumont, Texas, transported the child to the motel for the “date” and were arrested at the scene for the first-degree felony of Trafficking of Persons. The investigation later revealed dozens of ads had been posted online of the child. The phone numbers and email addresses associated with these ads belonged to Toni Davis and Arthur Gilder.

The investigation also revealed that Andre Tucker, 24, of Beaumont, Texas, had engaged in sexual acts with the child in exchange for money after seeing an ad of her online. Detectives executed a search warrant at Tucker’s residence on January 31, 2019, where he was arrested for the first-degree felony of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. Tucker confessed to detectives that he had engaged in sexual acts with the 12-year-old. In addition to Tucker, numerous other unknown “johns” also purchased the child for sex.

Toni Davis was indicted on two cases of Trafficking of Persons and one case of Attempted Trafficking of Persons. She is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison for the Trafficking of Persons cases and 2 to 20 years in prison for the Attempted Trafficking of Persons case. Arthur Gilder was indicted for two cases of Trafficking of Persons. He is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison. Andre Tucker was indicted for two cases of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. He is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison.

A person commits the offense of Trafficking of Persons if they knowingly traffic a child and cause the child to engage in, or become the victim of, Prostitution, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, or other sexual offenses, regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child. Traffic means to transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain a person by any means. (See Texas Penal Code § 20A.02).

The investigation is still ongoing at this time, and detectives believe there is a possibility that additional suspects and/or victims may be identified.

The charges in the 61 cases are as follows:

  • Retaliation- 1 Case
  • Assault F/V- 4 Cases
  • Aggravated Assault F/V- 1 Case
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance- 18 Cases
  • Aggravated Assault- 2 Cases
  • Felon in Possession of Firearm- 2 Cases
  • Assault on a Public Servant- 1 Case
  • Robbery- 3 Cases
  • Burglary of a Habitation- 2 Cases
  • Theft- 2 Cases
  • Fail to Register as a Sex Offender- 1 Case
  • Theft of Service- 1 Case
  • Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle- 1 Case
  • Theft of Firearm- 1 Case
  • Possession of Controlled Substance with intent to deliver- 2 Cases
  • Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity- 4 Cases
  • Delivery of a Controlled Substance- 1 Case
  • Indecency with a Child- 1 Case
  • Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child- 1 Case
  • Online Solicitation of a Minor- 1 Case
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child- 2 Cases
  • Trafficking of Person- <18- 4 Cases
  • Attempt to Traffic person- 1 Case
  • Sexual Assault of a Child- 4 Cases