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‘World of Warcraft' Leads Cops to Florida Man Accused of Hiding Underage Ohio Girl He Met Playing Game Online: Cops

Florida Man Accused of Driving to Ohio to Pick Up Teen He Met Online
Source: Marion County Sheriff's Office; Unsplash

Thomas Ebersole is accused of driving to Ohio to pick up a teen girl he met online playing 'World of Warcraft.'

Jan. 9 2024, Published 10:01 a.m. ET

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A Florida man has been arrested after he was accused of traveling to Ohio and picking up his underage girlfriend and then driving her to Florida, where he planned on hiding her inside his home until they could get married, according to authorities.

On Jan. 3, an FBI agent contacted a detective from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing child case out of Ohio, officials said.

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The FBI agent reportedly learned the missing teen’s “World of Warcraft” account had been accessed from an address in Dunnellon, officials said.

The location was traced to the home of 31-year-old Thomas Ebersole, who also logged into his gaming profile from the same address, authorities said.

Officers went to Ebersole’s home, and he reportedly said he did not know the 16-year-old. However, police said that as detectives questioned him more, he allegedly admitted to picking up the teen from her home in Ohio and driving her back to Florida.

Ebersole told investigators that he was “in a romantic relationship with the juvenile victim and was going to hide her in his home with plans for her to become his wife,” according to officials.

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Investigators were able to obtain messages between Ebersole and the victim, which “further outlined his plans to meet the victim in Ohio and engage in sexual activity despite knowing that he was committing a crime.”

Ebersole allegedly admitted to police that he kissed the girl in his car, but “not much” in his house, police said.

The suspect's mugshot shows he appears to have hickeys on his neck, which he told police the victim gave to him, according to authorities.

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Court documents state the two texted and joked about their relationship being a crime and how Ebersole, who has no prior criminal history, knew the girl was only 16 years old, authorities said.

Ebersole was arrested and charged with traveling to meet a minor to engage in sexual activity, interfering with child custody, and sheltering an unmarried minor, officials said.

He was booked into the Marion County Jail and was being held without bond.

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