A Beach Park man has been arrested on charges of kidnapping and criminal confinement after authorities say he drove three children from Ohio to the north suburban community.
Police began investigating on Saturday after the Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the parent of two missing children from Middletown, Ohio, sheriff’s officials stated in a news release.
The parent said that their daughters, age 12 and 14 years old, were both missing, along with a 15-year-old boy, a friend of their daughters. The parent informed the sheriff’s office that one of the child’s cell phones pinged in the 10600 block of West Yorkhouse Road in Beach Park, officials said.
Sheriff’s officials obtained additional information from the caller and learned that a man, later identified as Michael Negron, 19, had left with the children on the night of Jan. 20 from Middletown, Ohio. Sheriff’s deputies later checked the area in Beach Park and found the Mustang at a gas station near Lewis Avenue and Wadsworth Road. There, they located Negro and the three children, police said.
Negron was taken to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office while the juveniles were transported to the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center.
An investigation later revealed Negron had been communicating with the 12-year-old on Fortnite, SnapChat and other social media platforms for weeks, sheriff’s officials stated. Then, on Jan. 18, Negron drove to Ohio, where he interacted with the three individuals several times during his stay, before leaving with them.
One of the children texted a parent the description of the car they were riding in, which aided the sheriff’s office in their search.
According to the sheriff’s office, it remains unclear what Negron’s intentions were. Negron was arrested on one count of kidnapping and three counts of criminal confinement.