A Sydney schoolgirl was rescued from the basement of the home of a convicted killer after the American man allegedly lured her on the social media app Snapchat to fly from Australia to the US, police say.
When NYPD officers raided the home of 39-year-old Sean Price in the New York borough of Queens last week, they allegedly discovered Price and the 16-year-old girl, from Sydney’s upper north shore, hiding in the basement of the property.
Price has allegedly admitted to police that he paid for the girl to fly to the US and took her on a cross-country road trip, having sex with her along the way.
Price reportedly has a lengthy criminal history, including criminally negligent homicide for the death of a passenger in a car crash. He has now been charged with a range of new offences, including rape in the third degree, police say.
The officers had gone to the house Price shares with his mother after receiving a tip-off from Australian police that the teenage girl had boarded a plane from Sydney to Los Angeles on April 11, court documents say.
The girl’s parents had reported her missing from their Sydney home at that time and a search of flight records revealed she had left the country. Six months of messages
Court documents state that a confidential source had told Australian police that the girl, who is referred to as Jane Doe in the court documents, had been communicating online with Price from December, 2016.
In court documents filed with the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, Homeland Security special agent Miguel Collazo alleges Price had admitted that he initiated communications with the girl on Snapchat even earlier, in October last year.
Mr Collazo wrote in the criminal complaint that Price sent $US1500 ($2010) to the girl in Australia via several Western Union transfers under his name.
The girl then bought a plane ticket and flew to Los Angeles when she met Price, who had flown there from New York.
Price then hired a car and drove the girl from California to New York, making various stops along the way, the court documents say.
“[The] defendant acknowledged being aware of Jane Doe’s age over the course of their travel from California to New York, and stated that he had engaged in sexual intercourse with Jane Doe in multiple states, including New York State,” Mr Collazo says.
When police searched Price’s phone, they also allegedly found a number of explicit photos of the girl dating back to February. Found in basement
The raid on Price’s house occurred on May 11, the same day Australian authorities alerted US police.
When NYPD officers knocked on the front door of the house in Queens, Price’s mother answered the door.
“Initially, she denied that [Price] was home,” court documents say.
“An NYPD officer stationed at the rear of the home, however, observed an adult male and female attempting to leave the home through the rear of the house. That officer alerted his fellow officers by shouting.
“In response, the defendant and the minor re-entered the home, and the officers likewise entered the residence … so as to locate the minor.
“The defendant and Jane Doe were found in the basement of the defendant’s home.”
The girl has since returned to her Australia, police said.
Brooklyn Federal Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky denied Price bail, despite Price offering the house he shared with his mother as surety.
“Any offer doesn’t give the court much confidence,” the magistrate said.
– With AAP
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