Missing Horn Lake girl recruited ride to Memphis from internet chat room

By Jamel Major - bio | email

HORN LAKE, MS (WMC-TV) - A Mid-South teenager returned home Sunday after befriending a man in an internet chat room and running away from home.  But authorities say the man who helped her run away may not have realized he was doing anything wrong.

Neighbors said Tuesday they were ecstatic to have 13-year-old Tamara Bradford back home.

"It's real close to home," neighbor Ricky Bates said. "I'm glad she's back where she belongs - glad she's safe."

Police say Bradford disappeared from the 6000 block of Bentley Cove in Horn Lake on January 10th.  Family and friends spent nearly a week looking for her, until she called her grandmother Sunday morning to pick her up along a street in the Binghampton area of Memphis.

Investigators said Bradford ran away from home with a 24-year-old man she met in an online chat room, along with his mother.  The man's mother claims Bradford spent time with her and her son for a short time at their home before the mother drove the girl to what she said was her cousin's house.  

"Some kids are smart enough to take advantage of adults," Bates said. "I'm careful on the internet and taught my children to be careful."

While police say the mother told them she had questioned Bradford about her age before leaving Horn Lake, Bradford didn't have identification with her.

Investigators believe Bradford may have used the man and his mother to help her run away to Memphis.

Neither the 24-year-old man nor his mother have been arrested or charged with helping Bradford run away. Police are still trying to determine if Bradford was victimized while with the mother and son.

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