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Police: Missing girl, 13, found safe; posed as 19-year-old | News

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Police: Missing girl, 13, found safe; posed as 19-year-old
Police: Missing girl, 13, found safe; posed as 19-year-old

Winter Haven, Florida -- A 13-year-old girl who went missing in Winter Haven over the weekend has been found safe.

Police say she was with a man twice her age whom she had met through a dating website that's supposed to be for adults.

To look at her Facebook page, you might never guess that 5'9", 140 pound Lorei Parkins is just 13 years old.

When she went missing this weekend, Winter Haven police started looking for her everywhere. But had they searched the dating website datehookup.com, they would have found her posing as an adult.

"No matter what, I think you can tell the difference between a 13-year-old and a 19-year-old, even even if they are five feet, nine inches and 140 pounds," said police spokesperson Jamie Brown.

Investigators say around Thanksgiving, Parkins made an online connection with 26-year-old Matthew Calvin from Auburndale. This past Friday, she reportedly asked him to pick her up at a local Walmart.

Investigators say the pair then went drinking, and the next day ended up together at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing pier in Pinellas County.

"She had been missing for more than 24 hours, which is critical in any missing persons case," said Brown.

Police say they have no reason to believe anything sexual happened between the two, but Calvin -- who already has an extensive criminal record including domestic violence -- is now charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, interfering with child custody, obscene communication, and traveling to meet a minor.

Police say a relative had warned him "she in fact is not 19, she is 13. You need to leave her alone," said Brown.

"Well, we're often very trusting of what people tell us," said Kelli Burns, a USF professor specializing in social media. Burns says Calvin, like many, may have presumed Parkins was over 18 since her profile was posted on a legitimate dating site.

Burns urges people to thoroughly check a person's background before meeting, and says parents must be aware of what their kids are doing on line.

"Check out the sites that they're visiting. Look at your child's browser history. Look at their phone," said Burns. "See what sort of photos they're taking and posting on sites."

Detectives say they caught-up with Parkins riding in a taxi on her way back home from St. Petersburg.

Unharmed, she was re-united with her parents. The teen's family declined to be interviewed, saying they would like to put the whole ordeal behind them.

Calvin was being held without bond.


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