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Police use World of Warcraft to find missing teenager

World of Warcraft helped find a missing 16-year-old in US after they logged into the game in Florida, 1,000 miles from their Ohio hometown.

World of Warcraft Florida arrest: a pink skinned forest man with barbarian armor and antlers all over them

World of Warcraft helped find a 16-year-old girl around 1,000 miles from home after the victim logged into WoW at the Florida home of the man sheltering her. Police in Marion County, Florida traced both the 16 and 31-year-old’s World of Warcraft accounts to the same IP address before confronting the man and arresting him.

According to a post on the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the Blizzard MMORPG was used by investigators to locate the victim in Dunnellon, Florida, around 1,000 miles from the young girl’s home in Ohio. World of Warcraft was used after the FBI contacted the Marion police requesting assistance with finding the 16-year-old, with their WoW account logging in at the same address associated with the 31-year-old.

Thomas Ebersole was then arrested on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 for Traveling to Meet a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity, Interfering with Child Custody, and Sheltering an Unmarried Minor.

“Law enforcement made contact with Ebersole at his home, at which time he initially denied knowing the juvenile victim,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Office writes on Facebook. “However, he ultimately admitted that he had driven to Ohio to meet the victim and brought her back to his home. Ebersole also stated 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.”

Ebersole then provided the police with Discord messages further outlining his plans, with some messages showing he wanted to engage in sexual activity even though he knew he “was committing a crime.”

As of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office post on January 4, Ebersole was taken to the Marion County jail where he remains without bond.