A 12-year-old Swiss boy, whose disappearance fueled a nationwide manhunt, has been found hiding in the attic of the house of his captor more than 300 miles away in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The boy, identified as only Paul, went missing over a week ago after he told his friends he planned to go for a bike ride. The police investigating the incident, desperately searched for clues of the boy’s whereabouts, and with the aid of FBI, allegedly got hacking codes, which enabled them to access the boy’s Minecraft account.
There, it was discovered that Paul had listed his real name, age and home address on the game site. Probing into the matter, the police found Paul was in contact with a 35-year-old man who lived 350 miles away in Dusseldorf, Germany. When the property was raided, the cops found Paul hiding in the attic.
Before he vanished, Paul told his parents he was going bicycling; his bike was found abandoned near a neighboring town. Police are currently investigating whether the boy went with the man, identified as Werner C, a trainee cook, voluntarily or if he was taken by force.
However, since Paul is underage, his week-long stay with the man has been deemed a kidnapping.
“It is too early to start criminal proceedings for sexual abuse. We have already spoken intensively with Paul in the presence of his parents,” said a German police spokesman. “We are getting an image of what exactly happened, but we still need to complete the investigation.”
The case was unusual in the sense the Swiss FBI rarely gets involved with the police task forces. Paul and his parents were reunited soon after he was rescued.
The telecommunication company Swisscom warns both parents and kids to be on their guard online.
“It is important that parents talk about all the risks involved of being online with their children,” a Swisscom spokesman said. “You should be aware that although online 13-year old Marco is talking to you, in reality this can be 46-year old Klaus.”
Cases of child abduction by online predators are not new. Alicia, a woman who was kidnapped when she was just 13 and sold into sex slavery, recounted her horrifying ordeal during Oprah Winfrey’s show. Breck Bednar, 14, was lured through a gaming portal and then murdered in 2014.