June 19, 2013 in City

Parents’ Facebook ruse halts kidnap of their daughter

Online relationship with teen girl alleged
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane father who discovered his 15-year-old daughter was being wooed by a man twice her age took matters into his own hands.

After hatching a Facebook ruse that drew the 30-year-old Federal Way, Wash., man to Spokane earlier this month, the father and a couple of his buddies staked out the arranged meeting spot, then blocked the man’s escape until police arrived and took him into custody.

The suspect, identified in court documents as Jason D. Richards, now faces charges in Spokane County Superior Court of child rape and attempted kidnapping. Arraignment is set for today.

The improper relationship, which began in April through a Facebook dating application called “Are You Interested,” was discovered earlier this month by the parents, court records show. Richards and the girl exchanged “hundreds” of Facebook messages and also communicated via YouTube. They met face-to-face in May and quickly made plans to elope and erase all digital traces of their connection.

Because it’s the policy of The Spokesman-Review to avoid identifying victims of sex crimes, the names of the girl and her parents are being withheld from this article.

Richards allegedly acknowledged to investigators he knew the girl was underage when he had sex with her during his May 18 trip to Spokane. He reportedly gave the girl an engagement ring, and the two had discussed her running away from home and changing her name and appearance to live with him in Western Washington.

When the girl’s parents discovered the relationship on June 7, they took their daughter’s computer and locked her out of her Facebook account. The mother then continued to message Richards, posing as her daughter, and convinced him to go through with the runaway plan that evening. When Richards arrived at the family’s south-central Spokane home in the early hours of June 8, the girl’s father and two of his friends were waiting for him in an alley behind the house. They detained Richards until police could arrive.

Richards’ bond was set at $100,000 by Superior Court Judge James Triplet last week. According to a Facebook profile that police have linked to Richards, he worked as a coffee distributor for several years after graduating from college in California.


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