Parents, this is why you need to keep an eye not only on your kids’ Internet usage, but their gaming consoles as well: A 14-year-old boy was lured onto a cross-country flight with a stranger he met while playing video games.
Tampa Police arrested 36-year-old Tony E. McLeod Tuesday on kidnapping charges after he allegedly flew from California to Tampa International Airport with the boy who had been reported missing by his family.
Officials said they believe McLeod began preying on the teen through PlayStation online video games. According to the Tampa Tribune, McLeod developed a friendship with the boy and sent sexual images and text messages to his cellphone beginning in May. The boy’s parents found those messages and reportedly called McLeod, warning him to stay away from their son. They also contacted their local police.
The boy, though, didn’t return home at 2 p.m. after school on Monday. That’s when the police started looking for McLeod.
This story leaves us baffled, and with a lot of questions. Like:
• Did the obnoxious, intrusive TSA ask about their relationship?
• If so, and it’s likely, how did McLeod explain to security why he’s traveling with a teenager with a different last name?
• How willing was the teen to go with McLeod?
• If not at all, how did the boy not say anything to anyone?
• How did the boy’s parents not take stronger action when they first discovered the sexually explicit text messages?
• Would your response to this story be different if the suspect was a an older woman abducting a teenage boy?
• Would your response to this story be different if the victim was a girl?
And finally: How did McLeod think he was going to get away with kidnapping a 14-year-old kid and flying him cross-country?!
Very tough questions in this case, and a very close call for this boy and his family. Obviously we’re all glad it didn’t end any worse.