Missing Ohio Teen Found at Florida Man’s Home

Missing Ohio Teen Found at Florida Man’s Home

A Florida man was arrested after police used the World of Warcraft video game to track down a missing Ohio teen he was allegedly hiding and intending to sexually abuse.

Detective Henrick Osthed of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrested Thomas Ebersole, 31, on Wednesday for “Traveling to Meet a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity, Interfering with Child Custody, and Sheltering an Unmarried Minor,” according to a news release.

DUNNELLON MAN ARRESTED FOR TRAVELING TO OHIO TO MEET MINOR On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, Marion County Sheriff’s…

Posted by Marion County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, January 4, 2024

The FBI requested Detective Osthed’s assistance in locating the missing 16-year-old girl, leading to investigators discovering that the teen’s online World of Warcraft account had been logged into by someone at Ebersole’s Dunnellon address.

“Law enforcement made contact with Ebersole at his home, at which time he initially denied knowing the juvenile victim,” the local sheriff’s office said. “However, he ultimately admitted that he had driven to Ohio to meet the victim and brought her back to his home.”

Ebersole also told police that he was in a romantic relationship with the girl and was going to hide her in his home with plans for her to become his wife, officials said. 

The suspect and victim appear to have met over the internet, with police viewing messages on the chat app Discord that “further outlined [Ebersole’s] plans to meet the victim in Ohio and engage in sexual activity despite knowing that he was committing a crime.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCME), reports of “Online Enticement of Children for Sexual Acts” increased by 82 percent from 2021 to 2022. 

A 2017 study completed by the organization found that 78 percent of the reported child victims were girls. The victims’ ages ranged from just one to 17 years old, with a mean age of 15.

A June 2023 NBC report detailed how Discord, which is used by 150 million people globally, has been utilized by child predators to commit crimes.

In a review of international, national and local criminal complaints, news articles and law enforcement communications published since Discord was founded, NBC News identified 35 cases over the past six years in which adults were prosecuted on charges of kidnapping, grooming or sexual assault that allegedly involved communications on Discord. Twenty-two of those cases occurred during or after the Covid pandemic. At least 15 of the prosecutions have resulted in guilty pleas or verdicts, and many of the other cases are still pending. 

NBC News identified an additional 165 cases, including four crime rings, in which adults were prosecuted for transmitting or receiving child sexual abuse material via Discord, or for using the platform to extort children into sending sexually graphic images of themselves.

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Originally Posted on: https://www.breitbart.com/crime/2024/01/06/police-world-of-warcraft-leads-to-missing-ohio-teen-being-found-at-florida-mans-home/
[By: Olivia Rondeau

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