The wife of a man accused of kidnapping a Henry County, Mo., girl tipped off authorities on how to track him and told them about his online relationship with a girl who claimed to be 16, according to court records.
Raymond Chandis Vallia III, 55, of Albuquerque, N.M., faces a kidnapping charge in connection with the Sunday disappearance of 13-year-old Hannah Sue Kennish of Montrose, Mo. The seventh-grader’s mother reported her missing Sunday morning after finding Hannah gone and the home’s back door open.
Authorities allege that Vallia traveled from New Mexico to Henry County for a meeting he and Hannah had planned through social media. Her family did not know about the online relationship, authorities said.
The New Mexico State Police arrested Vallia about 3:30 p.m. Monday just outside Albuquerque. They found Hannah in his pickup truck. Vallia appeared in court Tuesday in Albuquerque and waived his right to fight extradition. He is being held without bond. No timetable had been set for when he might return to Missouri.
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Hannah was in protective custody Tuesday in Albuquerque. She had not spoken to authorities about the incident, officials said.
Investigators said it appeared that Hannah left with Vallia on her own. There was no evidence of any struggle at the teen’s home, said Maj. Robert Hills with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.
According to court records, Vallia’s wife told investigators the two had separated after she found that he was involved in an online relationship with a teen. She gave authorities his cellphone number, his address and a description of his black 2013 Ford F-150.
Authorities found Vallia by tracking his cellphone, according to court records.
Vallia and Hannah began their online relationship in December, investigators said. Hannah created an online identity with the first name of Sylvia, according to court records.
Authorities said the teen had several social media accounts. Investigators did not reveal details of their conversations but said the two communicated using the Tumblr, Pinterest and Kik social media sites. Investigators said they had not determined who made the initial contact.
According to his Facebook page, Vallia moved from Texas to Albuquerque in July. He described himself as a Navy veteran and a grandfather who has been married 20 years.
Hannah is a straight-A student who attends a Christian school and enjoys swimming, her mother said.
What parents can do
Parents should closely monitor their children’s online and social media activities, authorities say.
That includes keeping computers in common areas and not inside a child’s room, said Jeff Lanza, a former FBI special agent who now lectures on communications and security issues.
Monitoring software should be installed on children’s smartphones, hand-held devices and computers, he said. Installing a tracking device on a mobile device also can help authorities quickly find missing children.
Parents also should have passwords to all of their kids’ devices and social media accounts, Lanza said. Those passwords will help authorities keep children from harm, he said.
And children should never communicate with strangers or provide personal information on social media sites.
“Parents need to have that conversation with their kids about the dangers of (Internet) predators,” he said. “They should be wary of those people. It starts with education.”
FBI online safety guide: www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide