Man accused of targeting delivery drivers in 2 kidnapping incidents in Spring Branch

Alex Bozarjian Image
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Kidnapping victim's wife outsmarts suspect, helps HPD make arrest
An 18-year-old is accused of kidnapping two delivery drivers in the Spring Branch area, but the wife of one outsmarted the suspect.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Spring Branch man committed two kidnappings in two days, according to the Houston Police Department.

Houston Charles-Stephens was allegedly targeting food delivery drivers in the Spring Branch area.

Investigations said in both cases, he held them at gunpoint and forced them to drive to an ATM.

The 18-year-old is now behind bars facing two charges of aggravated kidnapping and one charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

HPD said Charles-Stephens was caught in part due to a language barrier.

His second victim convinced the suspect to let him call his wife, who knew English better. From there, his wife started tracking her husband's location on her phone, ultimately leading officers to their location.

Juan Chavez walked ABC13 through exactly how a phone call from his wife, Vanessa Chavez, saved his life.

Over the phone, Juan Chavez said he was in a life-or-death situation, and Vanessa said her heart sunk. She said she had been tracking his location as he made late-night Uber Eats deliveries on May 15. Her gut told her something was wrong, so she called until he picked up.

"I immediately said, 'I am calling the police right now,' and as soon as I said that, I heard the man's voice; he's like, 'You're not calling the police. I need you to send me $2,000,'" Vanessa Chavez said.

Juan Chavez said Charles-Stephens approached him with a gun at a Whataburger on Gessner Road.

It was supposed to be his last delivery of the night.

In his broken English, he convinced Charles-Stephens to let him phone Vanessa.

"I just really quickly said, 'Ok, find a Bank of America.' In my head, I was like, 'I am going to buy my husband more time so I can call the police,'" Vanessa Chavez recalled.

Vanessa Chavez knew her husband's Discover Card wouldn't work at Bank of America.

She said that after briefly talking with Charles-Stephens, he hung up. Then Juan Chavez's location went blank. Luckily, police were already en route to Fondren Road in southwest Houston, the last place she tracked him.

"He had the gun to me for so long at that point, and I was scared," Juan explained to ABC13 in Spanish.

He said they moved on from the Bank of America and made it to Chevron, which is nearby, where police were already waiting.

"One of the police officers called me and said, 'Vannessa, we have your husband. He is safe.' I mean, it was in a matter of minutes, but it felt like a very long time," Vanessa Chavez said.

Houston police said Charles-Stephens had kidnapped and robbed a Domino's Pizza delivery the day prior. It happened at the Primavera Apartments on Hammerly Road and ended at an ATM nearby.

"I am really happy that they did catch the guy because we didn't know at the time, but it was probably something he did before and something he'd do again," Vanessa Chavez said.

Vannessa Chavez says this was her husband's side hustle and a way to support their twin babies. However, food delivery is no longer a source of income for them to consider.

"We would have never imagined something like this would have happened to him, so I told him, 'You're not doing Uber Eats anymore,'" she said.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family.

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