A 22-year-old Missouri man faces felony charges after he was found Sunday night in western Kentucky with two missing Collier County teens.
A frantic search for the two girls, 14 and 15, began Saturday afternoon when they left to take a dog for a walk in Golden Gate and failed to return home.
A mother of one of the girls told Collier County deputies her daughter had been talking online with the Missouri man, Ivan Eugene Coleman III, for about a year. The mother said Coleman originally identified himself as being 15-years-old but recently informed her that he was actually 21.
The girl’s mother said that Coleman “recently began to frighten her,” according to an incident report. The family has called the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at least two times for legal advice regarding Coleman, according to spokeswoman Michelle Batten. Investigators are still trying to uncover the details of those interactions since there were no reports taken, she said.
After authorities issued an Amber Alert for the girls, they were found Sunday night in Coleman’s 1994 Pontiac Grand Am by police in Paducah, Ky. Batten said they appeared to be en route to Coleman’s home in Park Hills, Mo.
Collier County deputies said Coleman faces two counts of interfering with child custody, while Paducah police defined the charges as two counts of kidnapping a minor. As of Monday, Coleman remained at the McCracken County Regional Jail, awaiting extradition back to Florida.
Batten said further charges could be pending. The Daily News isn’t naming the girls because of their ages and until more details of the case are known.
On a posting on NBC-2’s Facebook page, a woman identifying herself as Coleman’s sister said Coleman thought he was helping one of the girls escape an abuse situation.
“There are 2 sides to every story,” Eugenia Coleman wrote.
Family and friends of the girls lambasted the remarks.
Heather Degnitz, a family friend of one of the girls, said the 14-year-old was physically well but was being treated for possible malnutrition, saying she had not eaten in a couple of days. The 14-year-old was released to family friends in Tennessee until her family was able to fly to Kentucky on Monday, according to Paducah police.
The 15-year-old was placed in a group home until her parents were able to get to Kentucky, police said. Officials said both girls were safe but released no details on their time with Coleman.
Attempts to reach both families Monday were unsuccessful. Coleman does not have a history of criminal convictions or a sex offender status, according to an official records check with the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s criminal justice division.