Officials stated this weekend that a 12-year-old Florida girl stole her dad’s vehicle and picked up her 14-year-old buddy to meet an online predator in Louisiana.
Baby-faced Jade Gregory of Union County went missing last week after getting behind the wheel of her parents’ Ford Taurus, driving to meet her friend Khloe Larson, and then driving out of state.
According to reports, the two children had been chatting with an unknown individual online and intended to meet him in Louisiana.
Their abrupt abduction generated a Missing Child Alert, and their little faces were displayed over billboards and television screens in numerous southern states.
Gregory drove her dad’s pickup from the Gainesville region to Mobile, Alabama, a five-hour journey.
Officials said that they were not accompanied by an adult on their excursion and had left their homes willingly.
After seeing their photographs on a screen at an Alabama convenience shop, the girls decided to turn themselves in to local authorities.
The FBI is examining an individual that they believe the two girls were scheduled to meet in the horrific case.
According to authorities, the children have been securely restored to their relatives in Florida.
Law enforcement agencies have increased their efforts to alert parents about the dangers of online predators and to encourage careful supervision of their children’s online activity.
Police are looking into whether the runaways were enticed by a child sex trafficker.
In 2022, there were 19,000 complaints of child sex trafficking throughout the US, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.