Kansas man poses as teen online, drives to Michigan to meet 13-year-old
(02/18/19) - A 33-year-old man from Kansas is in the Saginaw County Jail accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
Investigators with the Saginaw County Sheriff's Office said he was posing as a 17-year-old online.
It's unclear how long they had been talking, but investigators say the 13-year-old kept their dalliance a secret from her parents.
"This girl snuck out of her home and met with him," said Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel.
The girl was found at the St. Charles Motel in St. Charles Township late Sunday night. A sibling of the teen told their mother she was gone. The mother then contacted her friends, ultimately leading her to the motel.
Motel owner Kathy Kelley recounts what unfolded after her son said an upset mother had arrived.
"There's a lady out here insists her 13-year-old daughter is here. I said, 'I don't think so'," she said.
The mother had figured out the man's name and he was registered at the motel. Kelley called his room and he answered.
"'Hello.' And I said, 'Front desk calling. You have someone in there?' 'I'm trying to sleep.' 'I said do you have someone in there," Kelley said.
Kathy, her husband Marcus, and the girl's mother went to the room. The girl was inside, and the man tried to leave.
"It was like instinct. I just reached in and I just grabbed, and the more he steered one way, the more I steered the other way. So he had no control what the car was going to do," Marcus Kelley said.
The man ended up stuck in the snowbank.
The St. Charles Police Department and Saginaw County Sheriff's Office arrived to deal with the situation.
The 33-year-old man is being held at the jail on two preliminary counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, but it will be up to the Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office to determine what charges he ultimately will face.
Federspiel is asking parents to use this situation to talk to their kids about online and real-life predators, as well as urging parents to educate themselves about social media.
"Mom knew that her daughter was missing, she went into action and thank God she did. She could have very well saved her daughter's life," Federspiel said about the mom's efforts to find her daughter.