A man from Bear, Delaware, is accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl from Wayne, New Jersey, on September 10 after the two met playing online video games.
Authorities found the child after being notified that she went missing the same day, USA Today reported Monday.
The suspect in the case has been identified as 27-year-old Darius Matylewich. The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office alleged he took the child from her residence, but her parents did not know and did not give their consent, according to News 12 New York:
KIDNAPPING CHARGES: The #Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office says Darius Matylewich took the girl from her home without her parents’ knowledge or consent. https://t.co/6guvopwUHp pic.twitter.com/d4SKAnqXR0
— News 12 New York (@News12) October 13, 2023
The suspect now faces charges of kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child.
“He’s accused of luring the girl after meeting her while playing an online video game and taking her from her hometown of Wayne, New Jersey, about 140 miles southwest to his hometown of Bear, Delaware,” the Today article read.
Police in Delaware arrested him in Bear, and he was later extradited to New Jersey. He faces a possible sentence of more than 30 years behind bars:
Prosecutors said 27-year-old Darius Matylewich had met the victim while playing an online video game.
Read the full story here:https://t.co/y8Vs0fyadw
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) October 13, 2023
“It’s actually pretty easy for an 11 year old and a 27 year old to talk on, really, almost any platform,” Former FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel told 6 ABC Philadelphia.
“Social media platforms, as well as the gaming platforms, have security protocols and preferences that are there based upon age appropriate use. And those protocols can be handled or changed by the user,” he added.
Reports say the two individuals interacted through Roblox, a game that has a multiplayer format and open communication policy, according to a recent Parents article:
Roblox is a free online gaming platform that allows users to play games designed by other players—as well as design their own. The platform has seen a major boost in popularity, with an average of 67.3 million daily active users as of March 2023, up 22% year over year.
“One of the safety concerns with Roblox is the risk that kids could interact with predators in the chat function,” the article stated.
Per the Today report, Roblox issued a statement saying it had offered help to authorities investigating the case.
“We work tirelessly to prevent grooming on our platform and have a team of thousands of moderators who enforce a strict set of community standards,” Roblox explained.