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13-year-old missing Bemidji girl found, Illinois man arrested

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- An Illinois man was arrested early Wednesday morning in connection with the short-lived disappearance of a Bemidji girl.

According to a release from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the 13-year-old girl’s parents reported her missing at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, after discovering she was not home and had not arrived at school.

The news release said the girl’s “recent strange or suspicious behavior” concerned her parents, as well as a report from a neighbor who said they saw someone standing in the wood line near the child’s home two days before she went missing.

Investigators learned that the girl might have left the area with the Oswego, Ill., man, identified as Chris Morales, now in custody. The pair met through social media, according to the release.

A neighbor who saw that a white Jeep Wrangler had been parked near the girl’s home days before she disappeared provided a license plate number to the sheriff’s office. Investigators used that information, as well as a description of the Jeep, to identify the 21-year-old suspect.

The girl and the man were found in Minneapolis.

Morales is being held in the Beltrami County Jail on suspicion of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and deprivation of custodial or parental rights.

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