Aubrey Peal lives in Olive Branch, Illinois. The 14-year-old teenage boy often impresses his family with his smarts and intelligence. He doesn’t interact with many people except through his video games. That’s why he spends most of his free time at home, locked away with his favorite video game consoles playing with strangers across the United States and the whole world.
However, Aubrey’s life suddenly changed when he snuck out of his bedroom window while his adoring parents slept. By the time his parents, John and Alicia, woke up from their slumber, Aubrey was long gone. He had not left a note. He had not warned anyone that he was leaving. He simply abandoned his home without a trace.
According to an interview with the Oxford Eagle, John and Alicia vowed that their beloved son had never indicated that he had plans to run away from home. His father even went so far as to defend his son’s mental health.
“My son is 14 years old, no mental illness, no medications, nothing about him that says there’s anything wrong with him,” John said. “All the numbers that he has saved on his phone are people we know.”
As John and Alicia fell into panic mode, John remembered one strange phone conversation that he heard his son had while he was playing his video games. Although John and Alicia monitored Aubrey’s cellphone, they never interfered with his video games. Perhaps, Aubrey had met a predator online and had run away from home to be with the “stranger with free candy.”
The community helped John and Alicia search for their missing son. But it was no use. For days, the community launched a tireless search that even included the parents hiring a private investigator when they felt the police were not doing their jobs well enough. In tandem with the police department, the private eye took off on his own but never provided much value.
Instead, a K-9 bloodhound managed to track Aubrey down. The dog’s name was Bella. She tracked Aubrey’s scent from his window, down the road, and out of his subdivision, where his scent suddenly disappeared. Authorities feared that Aubrey had entered someone’s car and been kidnapped or abducted by his internet buddy.
Aubrey’s parents did everything they could to find their son. They paid large sums of money to put up posters of their missing son and blast people with social media updates across all fifty states.
Five days after Aubrey went missing, he showed up at an Illinois fire station. He told the authorities that he’d seen his face on the news and figured it was time to turn himself in. When authorities interviewed the teenager, they learned that he was lured away from home by a stranger via a gaming application that the boy frequently used under his parents’ supervision.
Thankfully, the boy is doing all right now. However, parents need to beware when they allow their children to unbridled internet – or gaming – access.
What do you think about this growing threat for children and their parents?
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