A Florida creep allegedly traveled across state lines to pick a 16-year-old he wanted to marry before he was arrested with the help of a popular video game Wednesday, authorities said.
Thomas Ebersole, 31, was taken into custody and the missing teen girl was found inside his house after investigators discovered the young victim signed into her “World of Warcraft” account Wednesday at the suspect’s Sunshine State home, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.
Another gaming account that belonged to Ebersole was also signed in from the same address, authorities said.
The local investigation began earlier that day when the FBI contacted the sheriff’s office about the missing girl, who was from Ohio.
When investigators confronted Ebersole at his Dunnellon home, he at first denied knowing the girl before allegedly admitting he drove to the Buckeye State to bring the victim back to his home where he could hide her with plans to eventually marry her, the sheriff’s office said.
The drive from his home to Ohio would be more than 10 hours one way.
He allegedly claimed he was in a romantic relationship with her, and even showed authorities texts between the two on a messaging app, authorities said.
The messages allegedly outline Ebersole’s plans to meet the victim in Ohio and have sex with her, though he knew it would lead to criminal charges.
Ebersole was charged with traveling to meet a minor to engage in sexual activity, interfering with child custody and sheltering an unmarried minor. He remains in Marion County jail without bond.