A 26-year-old Arizona gamer allegedly tried to abduct a 13-year-old boy he met online but failed thanks to a keen-eyed gas station attendant.
The drama began to unfold early on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 28th, when suspect Aaron M. Zeman, aliases Tadashi Kojima and Hunter Fox, pulled up to a pump at the Git N Split gas station in Grand Island, Nebraska, and then just sat there suspiciously, according to Law & Crime.
Zeman then pulled out of the gas station, briefly drove the wrong way down a one-way street, and promptly returned to the gas station.
His odd behavior was enough to spur the gas station attendant into calling 911.
“An alert gas station attendant had actually thought something looked suspicious about the car and these people that were there at the gas station, called the police department and they responded,” Layton City Police Department (LCPD) Lt. Travis Lyman reportedly later told local media.
A police report reviewed by Law & Order states that when the officers arrived on the scene around 1:56 am that morning, they found both Zeman and a 13-year-old boy in the car.
But it wasn’t just any ol’ boy. It was a Layton, Utah kid who’d been reported abducted via an Amber Alert one to two days earlier.
The suspect in this case is 26 yr-old Aaron Zeman of Arizona. He also goes by Tadashi Kojima. He is driving a white ‘98 Toyota Avalon with a damaged grill and AZ temp tag 22225NP. He and the victim have not been located yet. pic.twitter.com/WxBPiosRVd
— Layton Police (@laytonpolice) December 28, 2022
“We have issued an Amber Alert trying to locate 13 yr old Evan McConney who is believed to be with an adult male stranger using the name Hunter Fox. Victim left his home late Monday night to meet the suspect. They may be traveling towards Arizona or Texas. Please contact us with any information,” the LCPD announced in a Facebook post published on Tuesday.
13 year-old Evan McConney has been found safe and the Amber Alert has been cancelled. Victim and…
According to a police report, upon discovering the boy’s identity, the responding officers demanded that Zeman exit his vehicle, but he refused to comply.
“When officers advised Tadashi he was going to be placed under arrest, Tadashi tensed up and started resisting officers from placing cuffs on him. Tadashi was placed under arrest for Kidnapping and Resisting Arrest,” the police report reads.
As of Saturday, he was being held on a $100,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 30th.
As previously noted, the boy had voluntarily left his home Monday to meet Zeman. But why?
“According to a copy of a sworn probable cause affidavit obtained by Salt Lake City ABC affiliate KTVX, the victim’s father told the police that his son had been exchanging ‘sexual and inappropriate’ messages with the man via the Roblox online gaming platform for approximately three weeks prior to the alleged kidnapping,” Law & Crime notes.
“Later, the victim reportedly joined a Discord chat with Kojima at Kojima’s invitation. It was through those chats that the two allegedly arranged” to meet up, according to Law & Crime.
In other words, Zeman had groomed the boy. Unfortunately, grooming is very commonplace these days:
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 20, 2022
The boy’s family is, for their part, extremely thankful that the gas station attendant had taken action.
“The teen’s family said tips poured in thanks to the Amber Alert. They were especially grateful for the stranger in Nebraska who never got that alert but who was paying attention to his surroundings,” station KSL reported.
“So relieved. Mom and dad are beyond ecstatic that this was the outcome. I learned a lot about the Amber Alert system last night,” Beth Cooper, a close family friend, said to the station.
“They’re just appreciative that he made the call. The fact it was less than 48 hours, the whole family is just so relieved that he is safe and out of danger now,” she added.
She meant that it’d been fewer than 48 hours since the Amber Alert had been issued.
According to Cooper, the family had discovered the boy talking to Zeman weeks ago but had been unable to do anything.
“She said the family went to police at the time, but no crime had been committed,” according to Law & Crime.
Going forward, Cooper recommends all parents both monitor their children’s online activities and also talk to them about predators like Zeman.
“Just monitor, talk, use this opportunity. I know we will in my house. Use this opportunity as a scenario. ‘OK, what haven’t we talked about?’” she said.
For those of you wondering, this creep (AARON ZEMAN) is in custody and the police are working on getting the child home. Groomed the child for weeks online then took the 13 year old child over 10 hrs away to Nebraska, gave a false name. He knew it was wrong. The sicko. pic.twitter.com/3UZSNa4LoO
— Creep Catchers (@CreepCatchersUS) December 28, 2022
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