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'PlayStation predator', Tony McLeod, arrested for luring CA teen to Tampa

7:41 AM, Jun 12, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Imagine your child goes missing, then you find out they're on a plane heading to the other side of the country.

It happened to a 14-year-old California boy who Escondido Police say was enticed by a Tampa man who contacted him through a Playstation online game. 

Detectives say 36-year-old Tony McLeod boarded a plane to pick up a boy who lives in Escondido, California. The two then grabbed a flight from Los Angeles, and headed back to Tampa where McLeod was apprehended Tuesday morning shortly after 6.

Tampa Police have charged him with kidnapping, interfering with custody, traveling to meet a minor and transmission of harmful material to a minor.

"This case originally came to our attention because of the family monitoring the young man's phone, and even then this happened, which just goes as a warning that you cannot monitor your children close enough when it comes to the internet," said an officer with Escondido Police Department. "When it comes to the phone, they literally have the world available to them."

Investigators say McLeod first met the child through PlayStation online video games, and eventually sent the boy sexually explicit text messages with photos back in May.

The parents called McLeod themselves and warned him to stay away from their son. They also alerted Escondido Police, but when their son didn't come home from school on Monday, that's when they started to expect the worst and reported him missing.

Police in Escondido were already investigating the case and focused their attention on McLeod. They said he cut off his old cell phone and learned, "[He] had gotten a new cell phone and was in the Long Beach area"- leading them to believe McLeod was involved in the boy's disappearance. 

Investigators contacted the U.S. Marshals and Tampa Police- who tracked McLeod down to a flight back to Tampa International Airport Tuesday morning- and Major Brian Dugan with the Tampa Police Department says they were there waiting. 

Dugan said, "I think when you go to a different state and you bring a 14-year-old boy back - and you're an adult and the cops are waiting for you on the runway...I think the jig is up."

At McLeod's condo right across the street from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, crime scene evidence technicians and detectives spent hours checking out the inside. 

Neighbors, not sure what to think, said "He seemed like a nice guy. It's messed up; people are messed up."

Follow 10 News Anchor Tammie Fields on Twitter - @tammiefields

 

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