A missing persons case in the USA has now found a happy ending: A 13-year-old from the US state of Texas who had disappeared for two weeks was discovered by the police locked in a shed in North Carolina - more than 1700 kilometers from her home. Apparently she became a victim of cybergrooming, in which adults manipulate children on the internet - often with sexual intentions.
The teenager met her alleged kidnapper through social media, the Davidson County Sheriff announced at a press conference on Monday. The 34-year-old was the focus of investigators after the mother gave the police access to the girl's account on Instagram and an online gaming platform.
The teen and adult had been chatting for an extended period of time, so the man wormed his way into the teens' trust and coaxed them to leave their Dallas home on March 1. With the help of surveillance cameras near her home, investigators were able to find out that the man picked up the 13-year-old in his car and took her to his home in Davidson County, North Carolina.
After a corresponding tip from the officials in Texas, the investigators in North Carolina became active. They drove to the given address, stopped the man just as he was about to leave the property. Shortly thereafter, they found the missing girl - locked in a shed. The property where the shed was located belonged to a woman who told officers she allowed the 34-year-old to live there. However, I didn't know that anyone else lived with him.
The teenager was taken to a hospital for a medical check-up before being reunited with her family in Dallas.
The man was arrested and will only be released on $1.25 million bail. He is now charged with a range of offenses including child abduction, human trafficking and raping a person under the age of 15. When he appeared in court Monday afternoon, a judge warned him that if convicted, he could face life in prison without parole.
Watch the video: Dramatic footage shows a hostage escaping from her year-long captivity. The woman arrives at a gas station just seconds before her alleged tormentor.
Quellen: Davidson County Sheriff's Office, NBC 5, Associated Press