A Florida sheriff’s deputy rescued a missing 13-year-old girl from a motel room where she had met up with a 22-year-old man she met online, police announced Monday.
Deputy Royce James was searching for an unidentified 13-year-old girl who went missing after school when he found her in a “dark motel room” with 22-year-old Tyler Thompson, Volusia Sheriff’s Office announced on Twitter.
Officers had received a missing child report on Thursday around 6:15 p.m. after the girl’s grandmother notified police that she neither came home nor attended her after-school basketball game, according to police. James questioned the girl’s friend, who said that the victim planned on going to a motel with someone from the internet, police said. She told James she believed the suspect’s name might have been ‘Tyler,’ according to police.
The friend also told James that she believed the victim was picked up from a Dollar General store in Oak Hill. James scoured video footage from Dollar General and found evidence that the victim was in fact at the store. An employee told James that the girl was waiting for someone to pick her up, according to police.
James started searching local motels and tried to match the victim’s picture with any recent check-ins, according to police.
“At the third motel he checked, Deputy James noticed a guest checked in under the name Tyler Thompson, with an address out of Orlando. Deputies went to his room and knocked on the door several times before Thompson finally answered, and the victim came running,” Volusia Sheriff’s Office said. (RELATED: Missing Kidnapped Teen Found Alive, Suspect Dead After Police Chase)
Body-cam footage shows James arriving at the Edgewater motel room where a partially dressed Thompson opens the door. James can be heard telling the victim to wait in the bedroom while Thompson is ordered to sit on the couch.
James asks Thompson his age, to which he responded that he was 22. “Oh you f*cked up, yeah you f*cked up real good,” James replies.
Thompson was taken into custody on a charge of interference with child custody while the Edgewater Police Department added a charge of traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child, according to police. Additional charges are pending, according to police.
Thompson was released Friday night after posting $15,000 bail, police said.
Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood praised James’s response. “Just absolutely GREAT WORK by Deputy James & all who played a part in bringing home this 13-year-old girl. A perfect example of what’s out there on the apps our kids are using. Parents, guardians, grandparents – stay alert and know that this can happen to any of us,” Chitwood wrote.