A 14-year-old boy who investigators say was lured to Tampa by a sexual predator is on his way back to California, Tampa police said Wednesday.
The man police say lured the boy onto an airplane with him made his first appearance in court Wednesday, and was denied bond.
The Tampa Police Department charged 36-year-old Tony McLeod Tuesday night after detectives said police in California weren't acting fast enough.
The situation unfolded Monday when the boys parents in Escondido, CA, reported him missing after he didn't come home from school.
Investigators say McLeod flew to California, picked up the boy, and the two got on a plane to Tampa that arrived around 6 a.m. Tuesday.
By that time, Escondido police investigators discovered the teen was with McLeod. They contacted authorities here in Tampa; Tampa police and U.S. Marshals went to TIA and arrested McLeod on the plane.
McLeod remained in Tampa police custody all day Tuesday. TPD spokeswoman Andrea Davis said they were getting to the point where they would have to release McLeod if Escondido Police did not file charges, so they did it on their own.
Davis said because of evidence on McLeod's phone, they were not willing to release him. They say McLeod sent the boy explicit pictures and video messages.
Davis said there was no way they were going to let McLeod leave the jail.
"Any 36 year old who befriends a 14-year-old in online gaming is concerning to begin with. But then to get on a plane, go across the country, pick him up from school, and bring him back to Florida -- that far crosses the line and that's someone we do not want back in our community," Davis said.
McLeod is charged with kidnapping, traveling to meet a minor and transmission of harmful material to a minor.
The news of McLeod's arrest took his neighbors at The Quarter Condominiums in Ybor by surprise.
"I was shocked obviously know that someone being brought on these kind of charges and implications live right next door to me," said McLeod's next door neighbor, who didn't want to be identified. "It's terrible if he's guilty and hopefully the criminal justice system prevails."
Police say they are taking a close look at McLeod's history to see if there are any other victims out there.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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