Entertainment And News

13-Year-Old Girl Found After Being Kidnapped By 33-Year-Old Man She Met On Roblox

Photo: Miguel Lagoa / Shutterstock
Kid playing Roblox

A missing 13-year-old girl from Kansas has been located in Georgia by police after she was allegedly taken out of state by a 33-year-old man.

The man, Howard Graham, was arrested by Clayton County police on March 1 after convincing the girl to leave her Topeka, KS home.

The girl was kidnapped after meeting the man on Roblox. 

Graham first made contact with the girl via the children’s gaming platform on February 18, Captain John Ivey said in a news conference on March 2.

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Police say that after two days of speaking on the app Graham convinced the teen to sneak out of her home and told her he would come and pick her up.

Early in the morning on Feb. 20, Graham collected the girl and took her to his home in Clayton County, Georgia, nearly 900 miles away, according to police.

Police also added that, over the next number of days, the teen was sexually assaulted by Graham “many times.”

The girl reached out to her mother for help via Roblox.

As she became increasingly desperate for help, the girl managed to send her mother a message sharing the address of a Dollar General where she had been taken, Ivey said.

From there, officers were able to identify and track down Graham before arresting him at his workplace on March 1.

“We’re truly lucky we found this young girl and she was alive,” Ivey added during the news conference. “I wish people would pay more attention to what their kids are doing.”

“Predators will go on and prey on little kids,” he added.

“It was quite pleasurable to see the reaction on his face,” the police captain said of Graham’s arrest.

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Police are currently searching Graham’s belongings to see if there is any evidence that he had targeted other children prior to or during this incident.

The girl has been safely brought back to her family in Kansas.

Roblox has also addressed the kidnapping and spoke on their in-app safety features.

The gaming platform, which is hugely popular among children, has insisted that they do their best to ensure safety on the app.

“We were deeply saddened to hear about this case. There is nothing more important to parents — including the many parents who work at Roblox — than ensuring that children are safe when they learn and play, online or off,” William Nevius, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs at Roblox, said in a statement.

Nevius insists that the app’s chat feature is filtered and does not allow users to share personal contact details or addresses.

“We have stringent safety systems and a team of thousands of moderators who enforce a strict set of community standards on Roblox, including zero tolerance for sexual content of any kind,” he added in the statement.

However, this isn’t the first time the app has been criticized. In an investigation reported by BBC last month, it was alleged that users on Roblox have been able to create sexually explicit room called “condo games” where adults and minors engage in inappropriate activity.

In these rooms, users were reportedly able to remove clothing and engage in virtual sex.

This kidnapping incident further calls Roblox’s child protection guidelines into question.

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.

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