A 14-year-old San Diego boy was found in Florida on Tuesday after a man convinced him to leave home, according to police.
Police have arrested 36-year-old Tampa resident Tony McLeod, who is accused of abducting the boy. Law enforcement officials were waiting at the Tampa International Airport for the teen and McLeod after they discovered the pair traveled on a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Florida.
According to a statement from the Tampa Police Department, McLeod will be charged with kidnapping, interfering with custody, traveling to meet a minor and transmission of harmful material to a minor.
McLeod allegedly met the boy last month through an online PlayStation video game and then began contacting him via cell phone, according to Lt. Neal Griffin.
Last month the teenager’s parents told McLeod to stay away from their son after they found graphic text messages on his phone, according to Griffin. Police were also contacted and began investigating the incident.
Griffin said when the teenager did not return home from school yesterday, police suspected McLeod was involved. Authorities believe McLeod traveled to Escondido and somehow enticed the victim to go to Florida.
Investigators were able to locate McLeod’s cell phone, which led them to LAX. They then discovered that McLeod and the teen had boarded a nonstop flight to Tampa. Officials said that McLeod had booked the teenager under a false name for the trip.
McLeod was arrested after the plane landed by Florida law enforcement, and authorities are investigating whether or not he sexually assaulted the teenager. McLeod is currently in a Tampa jail.
Officials said the teen is in protective custody and is being questioned about the incident. He has yet to be returned to his parents in Escondido.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and will be monitored by federal and San Diego authorities.
The San Diego District Attorney's office has filed four charges against McLeod, including child abduction. Additional charges are possible.
A warrant for his arrest has been issued and bail has been set at $1 million. If convicted of all the charges, the defendant faces up to 6 years, 8 months in state prison.