Man facing charges after missing Grand Island teen was found in Pennsylvania
By Imani Clement, Eileen Buckley,2023-05-26
The Erie County Sheriff's Office announced Friday charges in the case of a Grand Island teenager who was previously missing but found safe Friday morning .
The man who allegedly lured the 13-year-old away from her home, 24-year-old Dale Kumler of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, was charged with one count of second-degree kidnapping in New York State and faces several sexual assault charges.
Investigators credit a quick response from multiple agencies for the outcome of finding the young teen safe.
"We don't believe she was injured, which we were grateful for that and for the outcome, like everyone mentioned, we were very concerned during this investigation," stated Erie County Undersheriff William Cooley.
The Sheriff's Office, along with the Erie County District Attorney's Office, New York State Police, and the Buffalo FBI Office held a news conference Friday afternoon in downtown Buffalo.
"We spoke with her parents and they were absolutely delighted with this outcome too. They shared our concern and you know, I don't know to what extent they were aware that this was going on, if any," Cooley noted.
According to court documents, Kumler faces the following charges in Pennsylvania:
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse — person less than 16 years of age
- Statutory sexual assault — 11 years older
- Corruption of minors — defendant age 18 or above
- Unlawful contact with minor — sexual offenses
- Indecent assault — person less than 16 years of age
Investigators said Friday the 13-year-old met the suspect online, playing on an Xbox gaming console and that is how he lured her away from her home.
They say there is no doubt the young girl was being groomed by the 24-year-old Pennsylvania man
“Who you speak to online is not always who you think it is,” commented Matthew Miraglia, special agent in charge, Buffalo FBI. “For children, they don't understand that the people that we're meeting online, don't have their best interests in heart."
Grand Island Central School Superintendent Brian Graham sent a letter to his school community after the student from Veronica Connors Middle School was found safe.
But Graham is asking school families and parents to think about how much access should young children be given to social media and internet chat forums warning them o take a “stronger" look at what children are doing online and any connection they might have with strangers.
Graham wrote, “Additionally, we should all be aware that meeting strangers online while playing on Xbox and Playstation should be considered just as dangerous as meeting and conversing with strangers in person".
“But there's a global playground that children are using and it's not safe and I think that parents need to really think about that and decide what are the limitations that are appropriate for the different ages,” remarked Graham.
I asked the FBI investigator how parents should watch for this danger.
“There is no magic bullet for it, right? Like the big one is — knowing what your child is doing online, who they're talking to the best you can,” Miraglia replied.
Experts say video games make it easier to lure someone because parents think it's “just a video game” versus a social media site.
“Parents may or may not know this when their kids put the headset on, they're talking to another human being on the other end of that, right? It's generally not a robot that they're talking to, so just talk to your children and know what's going on — when you hear them yelling at the top of their lungs at the video game screen — pay attention to what they're yelling and what's going on,” instructed Miraglia.
Officials said additional charges in New York and on the federal level are pending.
According to the ECSO, after hours of questioning, Kumler allegedly admitted to picking the victim up from Grand Island and taking her to Pennsylvania.
The ECSO additionally said that Kumler lied and initially told investigators that he dropped the victim off in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The teen was found in Kumler's home after authorities executed a search warrant.
"After hours of questioning, Kumler admitted to picking the victim up on Grand Island," explained Cooley.
They say there is no doubt the young girl was being groomed by the 24-year-old Pennsylvania ma
Kumler was denied bail and is being held in the York County Prison.