Man accused of attempting to abduct Bemidji girl now in custody
ATTLEBORO, VT. - Police say an Attleboro man bought a bus ticket for a 15-year-old Minnesota girl he met online and arranged for her to visit him for sex.
The suspect, David Weller, 26, of Attleboro, was taken in custody Tuesday and faced arraignment Wednesday in Attleboro District Court.
Weller is charged with enticing a minor for inappropriate sexual contact, a felony with a maximum punishment of five years in prison, police said.
Attleboro Detective Sgt. Arthur Brillon said the suspect and the girl had met through the Internet and communicated by cell phone and by text-messaging. Weller told police he thought the girl was older, Brillon said.
Authorities in Minnesota and Attleboro are also investigating whether the two exchanged explicit photos and have seized their cell phones for forensic examination, Brillon said. The investigation started in Bemidji Friday when the girl's mother reported that she had not returned from school, authorities said. Police later learned that the girl took a bus bound for Providence to meet the man she met online.
"The intention was to foster a relationship which we suspect, or have reason to believe, would include inappropriate sexual contact," Brillon said.
Weller allegedly bought the girl's bus ticket for the two-day, 10-hour trip using his credit card, according to Brillon.
Attleboro police became involved in the investigation last Saturday when Detective Russell Castro was contacted by Deputy Stephen Rankin of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office.
Meanwhile, the girl was intercepted by authorities at a Chicago bus depot the same day and was reunited with her mother. Police kept in contact with the suspect without his knowledge by having her parents use her phone, Brillon said.
After the suspect was told the bus would arrive at 3 a.m. Monday at the Kennedy Plaza bus station in Providence, Brillon said he and Castro worked closely with two Providence police sergeants and kept a surveillance on the station, Brillon said.
Weller was arrested after he was contacted by phone by Castro and was identified as the suspect, Brillon said. At the bus station, Weller acknowledged he was there to meet the girl, the detective sergeant added.
Weller was with his girlfriend at the time. She was not charged with any crime and cooperated with police, Brillon said.
He has been held in prison on a fugitive charge in Rhode Island since his arrest. He waived rendition and was brought back to Attleboro Tuesday by Castro and Brillon.
Weller is originally from Alabama and moved to Attleboro in February, according to Brillon.