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Missing Texas girls safe, person of interest in custody in S. Colorado

by Eric Mullens

LAS ANIMAS COUNTY — A 44-year old man is in custody and two Texas girls, the subjects of a multi-state Amber Alert, are safe following the man’s detention by law enforcement in western Las Animas County on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.

An Amber Alert was issued Monday, Jan. 1 for Lilianais Victoria Cake Griffith, 14, and seven-year old Luluvioletta Bandera-Magret. The alert was discontinued Wednesday when police in Trinidad received a tip indicating video surveillance from a business in that community appeared to depict abduction suspect Terry Allen Miles.

Miles was being sought for questioning in the death of 44-year-old Tonya Bates and the abduction of her two daughters from a north Austin, Texas suburb.

Miles was taken into custody after Las Animas County deputies stopped him around 7:30 pm while he was driving through Las Animas County, Banks said. Lilianais Victoria Cake Griffith, 14, and Luluvioletta Bandera-Margaret, 7, were found, unharmed, with him.

“The vehicle started driving erratically,” but Miles eventually stopped and was taken into custody, Round Rock, Texas Police Chief Allen Banks said. As of 9:45 pm Wednesday, authorities had not yet charged Miles, Banks said. Two Round Rock detectives will be flying to Colorado today to continue their investigation.

The sisters’ mother, 44-year-old Tonya Bates, was found dead at her home in the 2100 block of Leslie Court in Round Rock, police said.

Child Protective Services in Colorado and Texas will bring the sisters “back to their families,” Banks said. “Our whole goal was to bring these two girls home. … As you walked around our incident command center, it wasn’t ‘if’ the girls came home. It has always been ‘when’ the girls came home,” Banks said. Banks thanked the tipster who led investigators to where Miles was. “When we send out Amber Alerts and bulletins, it’s for a reason,” Banks said. “It’s to help get people back to their homes safely. This is a prime example of the system working.”

Miles and Bates were roommates. Her body was found Sunday at the home they shared. It’s not clear how long she was dead, Chief Banks said.

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