On Friday, May 19th 2000, a 14-year-old girl told
her parents she was going to spend the night at a friend's house.
They didn't think twice when a man drove up in front of their
house and their daughter left with him. They didn't, at least,
until the next morning when they found a note in their daughter's
room explaining that she hadn't really gone to a friend's house,
but rather, had left with a man she met on the Internet.
Ofc. Blake Edwards came on duty at 6:00 p.m. on
May 20th and was assigned the case. Ofc. Edwards put his high-tech
investigation skills to use. He worked around the clock for the
next two days tracking down leads and following up on clues that
he had extracted from the family's hard drive. Finally, on Monday
morning, Blake picked up on an e-mail that the girl had sent to
her friend. That e-mail helped break the case.
Using this e-mail, Ofc. Edwards tracked the
juvenile to an apartment in Breckenridge Hills, just outside of
St. Louis, Missouri. The Breckenridge Hills police department was
contacted. Detectives there found the juvenile in the apartment of
Robert Daniel Smith, a 37-year-old man that she had met in an AOL
Smith was not home at the time but was later
arrested and charged with the federal crime of taking a minor
across state lines for immoral purposes.
The events of this case emphasize the importance
of parents' involvement in their children's Internet use.
Read the full news article in the May
25th Tri-City Herald.