LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – A teenage girl from Connecticut who was reported missing more than two weeks ago has been found safe in Colorado, and the man accused to luring her from her home has been arrested.
Acting on a tip from the FBI, police in Longmont say they found the 14-year-old girl in an apartment Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors in court on Thursday said Timothy Wind, 53, met the girl through a Disney chat room called Pixie Hollow.
They said Wind drove from Colorado to Connecticut to meet her. He then took her on what prosecutors dubbed “a honeymoon,” stopping in New York, New Jersey and Kansas before returning to Longmont.
“We don’t think she was taken forcefully, but she’s 14 years old. He’s 53 years old. That’s the inappropriate part of this,” Longmont Police Cmdr. Jeff Satur said.
In wasn’t until this week that authorities were able to extract information from the teenager’s computer that led them to Wind and Longmont.
Officers arrested Wind on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping, Internet exploitation, child enticement and sexual assault on a child.
He was being held in the Boulder County Jail. He was formally charged on Thursday. Prosecution wanted a $500,000 bond, but the judge said because Wind has significant ties to the area and is not a flight risk, he set the bond at $100,000.
“From the information we’ve gathered he’s had an online relationship with this young lady and on Aug. 25 he met her in Connecticut and then returned to Longmont with her,” said Satur.
That was when her family says she asked for permission to go outside.
Satur said he did not know exactly how Wind lured the girl, but it did not appear he was interacting with her under false pretenses. The two had been talking in chatrooms for a “significant” time before he came to get her, Satur said.
Police say they are working to reunite the girl with her family.
Her community had been pleading for any information about her location.
“We didn’t see him bring her in. We didn’t even see the police take her out. That’s what’s so crazy about it. We didn’t actually see her at all,” neighbor Edward London said. “Holding the girl for as long as he did, God only know what happened in there.”
Sexual predators have sharpened their skills when going after children using technology, says an expert in online crimes against kids.
“They’re very convincing,” said Mike Harris, who investigates Internet crimes against children with the Jefferson County DA’s office.
Chat rooms make children easy prey, he said.
“The age that a lot of these predators are going after are 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 years old, plus that’s an age where kids are still in early development and they make mistakes,” Harris said. “Lots of parents will monitor their kids’ text messages, but what they don’t realize is there’s so many other apps that they can use.”
Harris says parents need to monitor all technology and devices. He says these predators can work quickly or take their time to groom their victims.
“They’re all different,” he said, “but they have one thing in common: They want a young teen for sex.”