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    Mother of runaway Chesterfield teen pushes for change in a Virginia Law

    By Madison Moore,


    CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield County mother is advocating for changes to a Virginia law after her child went missing for three weeks in December.

    On Dec. 5, 2023, 15-year-old Tabitha Sites went missing in the middle of the night outside of her home in North Chesterfield. The Chesterfield County Police Department deemed Tabitha Sites a runaway after evidence showed she destroyed her laptop and deleted her social media accounts.

    At around 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 25, 2023, three weeks after Tabitha Sites was reported missing, her mother, Cora Sites, got her Christmas miracle.

    “[Tabitha] called me, and then I was afraid to let her off the phone. So, I called the police and the police went and retrieved her,” Cora Sites said.

    Cora Sites said h er daughter was manipulated by a 45-year-old man who she met online and picked her up in a car, driving over 40 hours away through seven states.

    “I thought [Tabitha] was dead. You know, after three weeks of not seeing or hearing from your child, you just, you start to lose hope,” Cora Sites said. “I was up all night, every night while Tabitha was missing, just in case there was a phone call. In case someone found her. In case I needed to go get her.”

    Since Tabitha was deemed a runaway, an Amber Alert was not sent out. Therefore, Chesterfield Police could not do much to help.

    “Every single thing was, ‘We can’t do it. We can’t do it.’ Her [emails] were deleted, her XBox account was deleted, and they couldn’t subpoena it because there was no evidence of a crime, because the evidence of the crime was deleted with the digital accounts.”

    The current Virginia law under the Consumer Protection Data Act is not specific to runaways and applies to children under the age of 13. Since Tabitha Sites was 15 when she went missing, the law protected her data from being collected.

    Cora Sites said that, if the age in the Consumer Protection Data Act were to change to include children under the age of 18, it could have contributed to Tabitha being found sooner.

    “When these laws were written, we didn’t have the Internet. We didn’t have online predators pretending to be kids or making promises to kids, you know, and telling kids to delete all of the information before they picked them up,” Cora Sites said. “That protects the predator. It doesn’t protect the child. It doesn’t protect the family.”

    The man who took Tabitha Sites has been charged with human trafficking and other charges. According to Cora Sites, the FBI has taken over the case.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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