By Jeff Lehr
Bond is set at $100,000 for a man accused of picking up a 13-year-old girl in Arkansas and bringing her back to his apartment in Joplin without her parents’ permission.
Cpl. Chuck Niess of the Joplin Police Department said officers were dispatched about 8 p.m. Friday to 926 N. Goetz Blvd. to check out a report of a runaway from Pea Ridge, Ark.
He said the girl was found at the apartment of James A. Morey, 33, and was placed in the custody of the local juvenile office. Morey was arrested a short time later when he returned to the apartment. He was charged with child kidnapping and remained in custody Monday at the Joplin City Jail.
Niess said the arrest was made after officers established that Morey was no relation to the girl and did not have her parents’ permission to bring her to Joplin. He said Morey allegedly had been having phone conversations with the girl for about three months before deciding to drive to Arkansas and assist her in running away.
“He picked her up at her school,” Niess said.
A probable-cause affidavit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court states that the girl’s mother reported that her daughter did not come home from school. Pea Ridge police then learned that the girl had been text-messaging a number in Joplin that belonged to Morey.
The girl reportedly told officers that Morey was aware that she is 13 years old. Missouri law holds that anyone under 14 is incapable of consenting to confinement by anyone other than a parent or legal guardian.
The affidavit states that Morey told investigators that he met the girl through Twitter, a social networking site on the Internet, and had corresponded with her about running away. He reportedly told officers that she appeared to him to be 13 to 15 years of age.
Niess said the girl is believed to have gone with Morey willingly and that she did not suffer any injuries. He said there are no allegations of sexual assault or misconduct on the part of the defendant.