Missing 16-year-old girl found with the help of World of Warcraft, police say – National | Globalnews.ca

Police in Florida are crediting the online video game World of Warcraft with helping them rescue a missing 16-year-old girl.


The Ohio teen was found far from home in the residence of a 31-year-old man from Dunnellon, Fla.

Thomas Ebersole was arrested in connection with the girl’s disappearance, according to a press release from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Ebersole was booked for travelling to meet a minor to engage in sexual activity, interfering with child custody and sheltering an unmarried minor.

The case landed on the radar of Marion police after the FBI sought their help on Wednesday.

Investigators learned that the girl’s World of Warcraft account had been logged into at 2390 SW Shorewood Dr., in Dunnellon. Police determined that this was Ebersole’s home address and that the 31-year-old had also accessed his World of Warcraft account from the same location.

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Mugshot of Thomas Ebersole, 31, who is accused of travelling to Ohio to meet a 16-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.

Mugshot of Thomas Ebersole, 31, who is accused of travelling to Ohio to meet a 16-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook

World of Warcraft is a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game,” or MMORPG for short, that has remained one of the most popular games of its genre since its release in 2004. The game allows players to build a unique character avatar to explore an open world landscape and interact with other players. Users can complete quests together, battle monsters and participate in an in-game economy.

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When police arrived at Ebersole’s address, “he initially denied knowing the juvenile victim,” authorities wrote.

“However, he ultimately admitted that he had driven to Ohio to meet the victim and brought her back to his home.”

The 31-year-old told police he was in a romantic relationship with the teenager, “and was going to hide her in his home with plans for her to become his wife.”

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Ebersole eventually provided police with online chat messages that outlined his plans to meet the 16-year-old in Ohio “and engage in sexual activity despite knowing that he was committing a crime.”

Ebersole is awaiting trial at the Marion County Jail, where he is being held without bond. His next court date is Feb. 6, CNN reports.

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