A 24-year-old Illinois man has been arrested after police say he was found in a Georgia hotel room with an 11-year-old Florida girl that he met while playing an online computer game.
John Peter Byrns, 24, of Hoffman Estates, Ill., was arrested after authorities tracked the missing girl’s cellphone and discovered her with him at a Holiday Inn Express in Macon, Georgia.
According to police, Byrns began chatting with the girl while playing Minecraft online.
“She was chatting with the individual through a game,” a Bibb County Sheriff’s spokesman said in a Monday news conference. “Within the game, you can use a headset to chat with the people you’re actually playing with. So that’s how the first initial contact we believe was made.”
“This is someone that she’s been communicating with online under the guise of being a female and basically has just pulled her into a trap, so to speak,” her father told WESH-TV.
Police say that Byrns drove all the way from the Chicago area to meet the girl. They were allegedly on their way back to Illinois when they stopped at the hotel in Georgia.
“I would say she’s lucky to be alive,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters on Monday. “She’s lucky that the circumstances aren’t any worse than what they are.”
Investigators say that charges are pending against Byrns, who is being held at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center without bond. He has not hired an attorney and has not yet entered a plea.
The girl was reunited with her parents Sunday evening. She was not physically hurt.