13-Year-Old Rescued by Hero Officer After Being Lured to Motel by Online Predator: Police

Deputy Royce James saves 13-year-old teen
Volusia County Sheriff's Office

A Florida deputy came to the rescue of a terrified missing 13-year-old girl who was found in a motel room with a 22-year-old man she had met online, police said. 

The dramatic rescue was caught on body camera video.

“Are you hurt at all?” asked Volusia County Deputy Royce James as the frightened teen ran into the officer's arms. 

“She noticed I was a deputy and she came running into my arms because she knew I was going to save her at that point,” said James during his appearance on "Good Morning America."

During the bust, the deputy asked the stranger many times, “How old are you? When the suspect finally said he was 22, James responded, “Too old.” 

“I was extremely angry. I have daughters and the thought of my daughter being in that position got me extremely angry,” James told GMA.

The ordeal took place on Thursday when the teen’s grandmother’s reported her missing, according to Volusia County police. The grandmother told police that her granddaughter never came home and missed her basketball game after school, WFTV 9 News reported.

James was on the case in search of the young teen. A friend of the missing girl told police that her friend was planning on going to a motel with someone she had met online. The girl continued to tell the officer that the man may have been from Orlando and that his name may have started with the letter, “T," according to police. 

The girl told James that the man might have picked up her friend from a Dollar General Store in Oak Hill. Once police surveyed the surveillance images at the store they were able to confirm that the 13-year-old had been there. An employee told police that the girl said she was waiting for someone to pick her up, the news station reported. 

Deputies continued searching local motels with the teenage girl’s photo in hopes of finding her. At the third motel located in Edgewater, the alleged abductor’s name Tyler Thompson was listed on the guest-check in. Within minutes, the deputy was inside the motel room making an arrest.  

James stayed with the young girl who was frightened and didn't want him to leave her side. He accompanied her to the local Department of Children and Families facility for evaluation before bringing her home safely to her grandmother.

James admitted on camera that, at one point, he was pretty broken up. “I did go back to my patrol car and cried,” said the officer. “It was pretty emotional.”

Thompson was taken into custody and charged with interference in child custody to meet after using a computer to lure a child, the Volusia County Clerk’s office. 

On Feb. 19, Tyler was released on $30,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in a zoom hearing on March 16 at 1:30 p.m., the Volusia County Clerk’s office said.

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