An Illinois man is facing a kidnapping charge after three children from Ohio were found in his car, and police say he had been conversing with one of them on social media for weeks.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that it was contacted on Jan. 21 by the parents of two missing children from Middleton, Ohio. Their 12-year-old and 14-year-old daughters were missing. Also missing was a 15-year-old boy who was a friend of one of their daughters.
They said that one of their cellphones was tracked to an address in Beach Park, a village of about 14,000 people in the northeast part of Illinois.
Police were able to determine that 19-year-old Michael Negron lived at the address and also drove a Ford Mustang that matched the description of a car seen in Middleton.
Sheriff’s deputies were located the car at a gas station and found Negron with the children. They arrested the man, and he was transported to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division. The children were transported to the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Investigators say that Negron had been communicating with the 12-year-old girl for several weeks through social media and games, including Fortnite and SnapChat, and then moved on text messages and FaceTime.
Police said one of the children had also texted a description of the car they were in. They allegedly tried to leave his car, but he refused to let them go.
He has been charged with one count of kidnapping and three counts of child endangerment. Police said additional charges are possible. He remains in jail under a $200,000 bond.
Lake County Sherrif’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli told WFLD-TV that Negron’s intention and motivation for allegedly kidnapping the children are still under investigation.
He went on to warn parents that they should be closely monitoring their children’s interactions on social media and online.
“There are predators out there, and they use apps that the kids are on, for example in this case, he was using Fortnite, SnapChat, and then they started communicating on FaceTime, text message, telephone.”
The children have been reunited with their parents.
Here’s a local news report about the harrowing incident:
Beach Park man accused of kidnapping three children from Ohiowww.youtube.com
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