MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WSVN) — A 31-year-old Florida man allegedly drove across several states to pick up a 16-year-old girl in Lima, Ohio who he met online through video game “World of Warcraft.” Luckily, police stepped in before it was too late.
According to an arrest report, Thomas Ebersole drove roughly 14 hours and nearly 1,000 miles to pick up the 16-year-old in Central Ohio. Investigators say Ebersole met the girl online while playing “World of Warcraft.” From there they developed a relationship.
“Then through the course of their online relationship, decided that it was a good idea for him to come up and meet her in Ohio. And he ultimately decided to bring her home to his own back here in Florida,” said Public Information Officer of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Zach Moore.
The girl’s disappearance forced law enforcement to put out a missing child poster.
Investigators were able to track the teen to Ebersole’s home because she logged on to her “World of Warcraft” account. The FBI and Lima Police matched the IP address with Ebersole’s.
“There was indication that she wanted to go with him. However, she is a child. She’s under age and he’s 31 years old. So ultimately, what he did was completely wrong and that’s why he’s in jail for it,” said Moore.
Authorities charged him with traveling to meet a minor to engage in sex, child custody interference and sheltering an unmarried minor.
“He admitted once he brought her out, brought the juvenile victim out, that he had plans of hiding her in his home, away from her parents, away from, you know, other eyes that may notice that a 16-year-old girl was living with this 31-year-old man. And he said that he had plans that one day she would be his wife,” said Moore.
He remains in jail.
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