Missing Teen Found with the help of Video Games.

A missing Ohio teenager was recently discovered in Florida after she logged into an online video game at the home of the man who had taken her. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrested Thomas Ebersole, 31, on January 09, 2024, at his Dunnellon home, after the FBI requested assistance in locating the 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing on December 28, 2023.

Investigators found that the girl’s World of Warcraft account had been accessed from Ebersole’s address, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. When confronted, Ebersole initially denied knowing the girl, but he later admitted to driving to Ohio to meet her and bringing her back to his home. He also claimed to be in a romantic relationship with the teen and intended to hide her until they could get married, despite being aware of the criminal nature of his actions.

Ebersole provided detectives with online messages that further outlined his plans to meet the girl in Ohio and engage in sexual activity with her. As a result, he now faces felony charges of traveling to meet a minor to engage in sexual activity and interfering with child custody, as well as a misdemeanor charge of sheltering an unmarried minor.

This case highlights the potential dangers of online interactions and the importance of staying vigilant when it comes to protecting our kids. Parents and guardians are encouraged to monitor their children’s online activities and educate them about the risks associated with strangers online.

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