The 13-year-old Buffalo girl reported abducted from her school bus stop Jan. 26 voluntarily went to West Seneca to meet with a couple in their 20s that day after meeting them on a cell-phone texting chat line, authorities said Friday.
The girl, whose family reported that she had been abducted at about 7 a.m. that day near the intersection of East Ferry and Kilhoffer streets, was found safe less than two hours later in a West Seneca apartment. West Seneca police have charged the couple with two misdemeanors each, even though authorities are not claiming that any illicit activity occurred in their Center Road apartment.
"She does not have legal consent, because she's under the age of 16, to go with anyone who's over 16 without the consent of her parents," West Seneca Assistant Police Chief Daniel M. Denz said.
West Seneca police charged John A. Mullen Jr., 27, and Keauna T. Jemison, 23, both of the Center Road address, with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful imprisonment.
"They struck up some kind of friendship on this chat line, and then they agreed to get together," Denz said of the couple and the girl.
Authorities insist there was no abduction, and they have found no indication of any sexual activity, drug use or drinking that occurred while the girl visited the couple.
West Seneca and Buffalo police, after interviewing the couple and the girl, still have some unanswered questions about exactly what happened that morning.
"All three of them agree that she went there voluntarily, but it's murky about how she got there," Denz said.
Police said only that arrangements were made to pick up the girl at her bus stop that morning.
Authorities then used cell-phone technology to locate the girl in the Center Road apartment in West Seneca, in the Union Road-Route 400 area. Law enforcement sources say that the girl somehow got a message to her family that morning that she had been taken from the bus stop.
Police officials replied that they had no basis to charge the young girl with any crime.
"It's my understanding that being a juvenile, many of the charges would not apply to her," Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said.
"It's a regrettable situation," he added.