(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A 19-year-old man from Chicago’s far north suburbs has been charged with kidnapping three children from Ohio, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Two of the missing children, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl, were sisters. The third was a friend of the girls, a 15-year-old boy. The sheriff’s office announced it found all three kids on Saturday.
The sheriff’s office said it located the missing kids at a Beach Park gas station. This came after authorities received a phone call from a parent, who said they had tracked a phone belonging to one of the children to that area.
Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said 911 dispatchers also learned that an unknown man — now believed to be 19-year-old Michael Negron — drove a Ford Mustang to a hotel in Middleton, Ohio, to meet the children.
“He met with these three children several times while he was there,” Covelli said. “Then, on the 20th, he drove them to his house in Beach Park, and one of the kids was able to contact their parents and let them know what was going on.”
The kid texted their parent a description of the Mustang. Dispatchers cross-referenced that information with their own internal database, Covelli said.
“They came up with a name, which provided a license plate, which helped our sheriff’s deputies [who] were actually searching the area come across the vehicle,” he said. “[They] confirmed it was the same license plate, and then, of course, they saw the three kids.”
Covelli said their investigation found Negron had been talking with the 12-year-old over Snapchat, the game Fortnite, and other social media platforms, for weeks.
In a press release, Covellie said the children were all taken to safety at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center.
The sheriff’s office said it is sharing information with federal authorities, and more charges could be brought against Negron beyond child endangerment and kidnapping.
Negron remained held in the Lake County Jail pending an initial court hearing Sunday morning.
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