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Crime & Courts

Minnesota police hold Oswego man in connection with missing teen

Police: 13-year-old girl found safe, met man on social media sites

An Oswego man has been arrested in Minnesota on sex charges related to a 13-year-old girl who went missing from her home.

Chris Morales, 21, of Oswego was arrested Wednesday following the Tuesday morning disappearance of the teen in Bemidji, Minn. The girl was found safe later Tuesday afternoon, according to officials.

Morales has been charged with deprivation of custodial or parental rights; criminal sexual conduct; possession of pornographic work of minors; and use of minors in sexual performance/pornographic, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office. Morales is currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail.

According to Beltrami County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ernie Beitel, the investigation about the girl began after the girl's parents contacted the sheriff's office at around 9 a.m. Tuesday to report that their 13-year-old daughter was missing from her home. Beitel said the parents discovered the daughter was missing when one of them went to take the girl to school that morning; the parents discovered that the daughter was not at home and had not reported to school.

"Other recent strange or suspicious behavior by the child, combined with a report from the neighbor witnessing someone standing in the wood line to the child’s home two days earlier added to their concern and prompted an immediate call to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office," Beitel said.

Police learned that the girl might have left with a man who she met through social media websites, Beitel said. The neighbor was able to get a license plate number and description of a Jeep Wrangler that had been parked near the girl's home when he had observed and confronted the man two days earlier.

After identifying Morales, police learned that he and the 13-year-old girl may have traveled to the Twin Cities metro area that day, Beitel said.

The girl and Morales were located by the Sheriff's Office with assistance from the Bloomington Police Department, Minneapolis Police Department, and agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Investigation, Beitel said.

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