(RepublicanView.org) – A 16-year-old girl who went missing in Ohio was found after logging into her World of Warcraft account.
Makyala Buckner went missing on December 28th from her home in Lima, OH. Security footage from her home shows the teen leaving just after 9am with her smartphone and laptop. Her ID was left behind. She was reported as missing two days later.
Her family was concerned for her welfare since Buckner has a medical condition that makes it difficult for her to travel far. They also described her actions as unusual, given her introverted tendencies.
She was found less than a week later after logging into an online video game called “Word of Warcraft.” Authorities tracked the IP address used by her in-game character to the Florida home of 31-year-old Thomas Ebersole.
Authorities later discovered that the two met through Discord, an online communications platform. Ebersole allegedly drove over 14 hours to pick up Buckner in Ohio, then drove her back to his home.
He initially told police that he didn’t know the girl. However, he later admitted that the two met online. He also told them that he intended to hide her in his home until they could get married. He confirmed that his plans included sexual activities even though he knew it was illegal.
Lima Police Department Sergeant Jason Garlock confirmed that Buckner was returned to her family without suffering harm. Her mother, Jennifer Johns, expressed gratitude for those involved in finding and rescuing her daughter.
Ebersole is facing multiple charges related to kidnapping and sexually exploiting a minor. He is currently being held in the Marion County Jail without bond.
According to a Fox News report from 2023, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that cases of minors being solicited online have dramatically increased since 2020 by 113%. The Discord chat platform is often used in such cases. The company has policies against such practices, but they can sometimes be difficult to enforce amongst its 150 million users.
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