Florida man accused of luring 14-year-old boy onto cross-country flight
A 36-year-old Tampa, Florida man was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly luring a 14-year-old California boy into flying with him back to Tampa under a fake name.
KFMB-TV reported that police caught Tony McLeod and the boy upon their flight’s arrival in Tampa. McLeod allegedly flew to San Diego to meet the boy despite being warned by his parents to stay away.
“Predators do use different techniques to entice children who are just not sophisticated to realize what kind of trouble they’re stepping into,” Escondido police Lt. Neal Griffin told KFMB. “And that’s probably what happened in this case.”
Authorities said the two met while playing an unidentified online video game. At one point, McLeod allegedly sent the boy sexually explicit pictures and messages, which prompted the initial warning from the parents. When the teen did not come home after school on Monday, his parents alerted police.
Police told KFMB that McLeod drove the boy from San Diego to Long Beach, California, and the two flew into Tampa International Airport from there, with the 14 year old’s ticket booked under a fake name.
WFTS-TV reported that McLeod was charged in Florida with interfering with custody, kidnapping, traveling to meet a minor and transmitting harmful material to a minor. The boy was under protective custody in Florida as of Wednesday morning.
“The suspect is trying to justify the situation he is in,” Tampa police Major Brian Dugan said to WFTS.
Watch KFMB’s report, aired Tuesday, below.