Internet predator lures 14-year-old boy to Tampa - WFLA News Channel 8

Internet predator lures 14-year-old boy to Tampa

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

(KNSD) A 14-year-old Escondido boy was safe and in protective custody in Florida Tuesday after a 36-year-old man he first met online enticed him to fly east with him, police said.

Tampa police and federal agents surprised the teen and the adult at the airport in Tampa on Monday when the pair got off a flight from Long Beach, Escondido police Lt. Neal Griffin said.  The man, Tony E. McLeod of Tampa, was arrested.

The teen was "victimized by a very sophisticated predator. He reached out across the country through the Internet and found a victim to entice and exploit to the point that somehow he was able to get the young boy on a plane with him," Griffin said.

The boy's parents first suspected someone was preying on their son after finding sexually explicit photos and messages on the teen's phone in May, Griffin said.

McLeod had contacted the boy through PlayStation online video games, he said.  After establishing a relationship with the teen, McLeod started sending explicit messages to the teen's cell phone, Griffin said.

The boy's parents found the messages and called McLeod, warning him to stay away from their son. They also contacted Escondido police.

But after hearing from the teen's parents, McLeod changed his phone number and began lying low, making it difficult for Escondido police investigators to find him, Griffin said.

Police were investigating the matter when the boy failed to come home from school Monday afternoon.

The family reported the boy missing and police immediately suspected that McLeod had enticed the boy to join him, Griffin said.

He said investigators treated the new development as an emergency and were able to get quickly the legal permission they needed to track McLeod's new cell phone.

Police pinged the phone and tracked it to Long Beach. Investigators learned there was a nonstop flight to Tampa and that McLeod was on board.

Tampa police and U.S. Marshals met the plane when it arrived in Florida, Griffin said.

Stay with WFLA.com for more on this developing story.

Follow us on Twitter:  @wflatampa

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:50:51 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
     When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors

    Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:04 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:04:44 GMT
    Police in Afghanistan say a security guard has opened fire in a Kabul hospital, killing three foreigners and wounding one other person.
    An Afghan security guard opened fire on a group of foreign doctors at a Kabul hospital on Thursday morning, killing three American physicians and wounding a U.S. nurse, officials said.
  • Clash in east Ukraine leave at least 2 dead

    Clash in east Ukraine leave at least 2 dead

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:55 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:55:02 GMT
    Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern city of pro-Russian protesters who had been occupying it for over a week.
    The Ukrainian government and pro-Russia insurgents report at least two deaths on the pro-Russia side during clashes in east Ukraine.
  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:50:51 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:50 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:50:51 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:45:39 GMT
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
  • Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:08:20 GMT
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.