Florida deputy rescues missing girl, 13, found in motel room with man she met online

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Central Florida deputy rescued a 13-year-old girl who was reported missing after school and was found in a motel room with a 22-year-old Orlando man she met online, the sheriff’s office said.

Action News Jax’s sister station WFTV reports that Volusia County deputies responded to the missing child report at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday after the girl’s grandmother said she never came home and didn’t go to her basketball game after school.

>>> CLICK HERE TO WATCH ACTION NEWS JAX NOW FOR LIVE UPDATES <<<

Deputy Royce James spoke to a friend of the missing girl, who said the 13-year-old was planning on going to a motel with someone she met online.

The girl’s friend said the man might have picked up the 13-year-old at a Dollar General store in Oak Hill.

The friend told James that she thought the man’s name started with a T, possibly Tyler, and that he was from Orlando.

READ: Stimulus update: House committee passes bill with $1,400 checks, unemployment

James went to the Dollar General to look for security video and found surveillance images of the girl at the store, according to the sheriff’s office. An employee reported that the girl said she was waiting for someone to pick her up.

James then began to visit motels in the area, showing the front desk clerks a photo of the missing girl and searching the day’s check-ins for a match, deputies said.

At the third motel he visited, James said he noticed a guest checked in under the name Tyler Thompson with an address out of Orlando.

READ: Coronavirus: Americans could still be wearing face masks into 2022, Fauci says

Deputies said they went to his room and knocked several times before Thompson answered.

When James entered the doorway of the room at the All Suite Motel at 335 N. Ridgewood Ave. in Edgewater, the girl ran into his arms and gave him a hug.

When the girl was told she would be taken somewhere to be medically cleared and interviewed, the girl asked James to stay with her, deputies said. He took her to a local Department of Children and Families facility for evaluation and then took her home.

READ: Woman robs Jacksonville bank in electric wheelchair

Thompson was taken into custody and charged with interference with child custody and traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child.

Deputies said additional charges are pending.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, and click here to watch the latest news on your Smart TV.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.