Columbus Man Wanted On Sex Charges Accused Of Fleeing To Texas


A manhunt is underway in Texas for a Columbus man, wanted in connection with the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl.

Stephan A. Cox, 26, was set to go on trial May 7 on sex charges related to a different 14-year-old.

Columbus Police first became aware of Cox in January after a 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl disappeared.

They say the girl had met Cox online, and he convinced her to leave home.

Police say the girl stole her mother's car and traveled from North Strabane, Pennsylvania, to Columbus.

"He basically hid her car for the weekend and spent time with her at a hotel and then we arrested him," says Columbus Police Detective Ronald Grocki.

Grocki says Cox had sex with the girl, and was charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Free on bond, Cox was on house arrest until his trial, which was to start next week.

Last week, police say, he skipped town.

"The information that we received is that he told his probation officer that he was going for a job interview," says Grocki. "And he apparently cut his ankle monitor off and fled to Texas."

Grocki says investigators believe he arrived in the Dallas suburb of North Richland Hills last Wednesday.

The same day, 14-year-old Ruby Contreras failed to come home from school.

Police say evidence shows Cox and Contreras also met online, and were last seen getting off a greyhound bus in El Paso, Texas.

Based on Cox's history, police say Contreras is in grave danger.

"It's very highly likely that he could be involved in some form of human trafficking," says Grocki.  "And that's the biggest concern for this 14 year old girl, that he may take her across the border into Mexico."

Anyone who has been in communication with Stephan Cox in the last week or has any information on his whereabouts is asked to call Columbus Police.

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