Law enforcement said an online sex predator crossed the country to kidnap a 14-year-old girl he met on social media. This case shows that when it comes to child sex predators, geography means nothing. Samuel Aaron Leonard traveled all the way from Florida to Washington State to meet up with a 14-year-old girl he’d spent months grooming online for sexual abuse. Police think they caught him in the nick of time. He was on his way to the girl’s home and officers found what they call an ‘abduction kit’ back in his hotel room.
Months Spent Grooming
Police said it all started back in April of this year. Leonard is 39 years old. However, he told the 14-year-old girl he met on Facebook that he was 20. Over the course of the next few months, he communicated with the teen on multiple social media platforms. He even sent her a cell phone so they could talk and text. Police said the communications turned sexual. Leonard convinced the young teen to send him sexually explicit photos. What the girl didn’t know was that Leonard installed tracking and surveillance apps on the phone to keep tabs on her location and read all of her texts and email.
Leonard didn’t know that the girl’s guardians found out about the phone in June and contacted police in Washington State. Police immediately seized both phones the teen had used to talk to Leonard. They discovered that he had already traveled from Florida to the Vancouver, Washington area.
That’s when an undercover officer took over and pretended to be the child. The officer told Leonard her guardians took the phone. Leonard promised to get her a new one. He didn’t know police were already watching him. They followed him when he rode his bike to her home, took a new phone, hid it in a package, and tossed the package over the child’s back fence. He was immediately arrested.
Suspected Abduction Kit
When the police searched his hotel room, they made a shocking discovery. Police found:
- ten sets of flex cuffs
- metal handcuffs
- electrical tape
- duct tape
- sex toys
- firearm and ammunition
- folding survival knives
- survival ax
Police charged Leonard with the production of child pornography and enticement of a minor. Production of child pornography is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison. Enticement of a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Vancouver Police Department, and Kalama Police Department are investigating the case.