Authorities in North Carolina say a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a 12-year-old girl.
According to the New York Post, 19-year-old James Murdock Peele was found with the missing girl after she vanished from her grandmother’s home in Carolina Pines.
The suspect allegedly left a ransom note behind before leaving with the girl. Authorities say her bedroom window was left open.
As the Craven County Sheriff’s Office reported, Peele was found Sunday in Fayetteville along with the missing girl after a coordinated search that included members of the FBI Cellular Analysis Survey Teams.
Reports indicate a search of internet chat room activity helped authorities locate the suspect.
At the time of his apprehension, Peele was about 130 miles away from the home where the girl disappeared. Sheriff Jerry Monette said there was evidence of sexual contact between the suspect and victim.
According to a statement by a Fort Bragg source, Peele had been a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division at the time of his arrest.
As WITN reported, the suspect was awaiting extradition to Craven County, where he is expected to face criminal charges including first-degree statutory rape and first-degree burglary.
The girl was reportedly reunited with her grandmother later Sunday evening.
Monette used the incident to caution parents about the potential dangers of the internet and online chat rooms.
[Featured image: James Murdock Peele, Craven County Sheriff’s Office]