Acting on the report of a missing child Thursday evening, Deputy Royce James of the Volusia County (Florida) Sheriff's Department began a frantic search that led to a dramatic rescue of a 13-year-old girl inside a local motel room.
When the girl's grandmother reported that the 13-year-old had not come home from school or attended a basketball game that afternoon, James began by talking with her friends. One of those friends said that the minor was planning on going to a motel with a man she had met online. The friend wasn't sure, but thought that the man's name might be Tyler and that he was picking her up from a local dollar store.
Body camera footage from the officer shows James seeing the girl on video from the convenience store's surveillance cameras. He then drives to motel after motel, showing the desk clerks the girl's photo and asking to see a listing of any recent check-ins.
"At the third motel he checked, Deputy James noticed a guest checked in under the name Tyler Thompson, with an address out of Orlando," an online police statement said. "Deputies went to his room and knocked on the door several times before Thompson finally answered, and the victim came running."
When James knocked on Thompson's door at the All Suite Motel in Edgewater, Florida, the 22-year-old answered shirtless. The deputy directed him to sit on the couch as he searched for the girl who soon ran to his side.
After several times of asking Thompson for his age, the visibly shaken man says he is 22. "You f***** up," the officer tells him.
The girl stayed close to the officer's side the rest of the evening according to police.
"When she was told she'd be taken somewhere to be medically cleared and interviewed, the girl asked Deputy James to stay with her," the department said. "He took her to a local Department of Children and Families facility for evaluation, and then took her home."