An Augusta woman is speaking out after two men unsuccessfully tried to get her mentally challenged daughter to leave home. News Channel Six's Dee Griffin is here with the warning.
Joan Etheredge says she tries to keep a watchful eye on her 22 year old daughter Caprice who has Asperger's Syndrome. But last week, Etheredge says she was blind sided when she learned that Caprice was communicating on the Internet with older men. "He says he's part of this organization and stuff and he's gonna help her do certain things like martial arts and stuff like that," Etheredge recalls.
Turns out, Caprice was actively communicating online and met the men on an Asperger's group chat site online. While we only found a couple of pictures of Caprice online, her mother says the young woman used the information to provide a path straight to her on the information super highway. Etheredge says, "she told them about her disabilities. She told them about the address. She sent a picture of herself so they know exactly what she looks like."
Eventually, she started keying in private information to a man she had not publicly met. "In her mind she was confused. She was saying that I was abusing her and holding her prisoner. Abusing her and holding her prisoner. I never did that. She had been off her medication too," explains Etheredge.
According to Etheredge, over time, the friend convinced Caprice to leave home. After two attempts, she made it out last week in the middle of the night, in the height of the ice storm and walked to the bus station where a family friend alerted Etheredge about her daughter's whereabouts. No one knows what the men planned for Caprice, but, her mother says she has an idea. "What I think for, to sell her into prostitution force her to do things. Why would a man do all this for you and he just met you online."
For Caprice, this was an eye opening experience and valuable lesson. She says, "I didn't think that this guy would harm me or anything. It's just that I have to admit that I was gullible."
Now, her family wants this to serve as a wake up call for parents who have turned a deaf ear to what happens online. "Monitor your kids on Facebook especially kids with disabilities and stuff like that. It can happen to kids with nothing wrong with them," warns Etheredge.
An investigator in Pennsylvania where the men live says they are legitimate and do outreach work to help people with special needs. Still, the Etheredge family wants this to remind parents to closely monitor their children's Internet use.
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