A Tennessee man has been charged with kidnapping a Leesville teenager and transporting her across state lines without permission, according to authorities.
Mark Owen, 35, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was arrested Wednesday night by Tennessee authorities and charged with Aggravated Kidnapping after Vernon Parish authorities identified him as a suspect in the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl been reported missing this week.
According to Sheriff Sam Craft, the teenager was first reported missing on Tuesday, Aug. 11. She had last been seen at her family’s residence on Savage Forks Road at approximately 8:30 p.m. the day before, and had not been seen or heard from since.
According to chief detective Rhonda Jordan, Owen was identified as a suspect soon after the investigation began when authorities learned he had been in contact with the missing teen through social media.
“We believe the two became acquainted through social media. Owen came here and picked the juvenile up and transported her out of state without the knowledge or permission of her caregivers. We immediately identified Owen as a person of interest and followed that information accordingly,” Jordan told the American Press.
A vehicle registered to Owen was identified as having Tennessee plates, and authorities believed the pair could be headed back to Tennessee. That information was quickly dispersed in bulletins provided by Louisiana State Police to law enforcement agencies across seven states. Sheriff Craft said detectives also contacted Tennessee authorities directly to provide personal identifying information on Owen.
Owen was located by Rutherford County authorities at approximately 6 p.m. at his Tennessee residence. The missing teen was also found inside Owen’s residence and was remanded to the custody of Tennessee Child and Family Services.
As of Thursday, Owen is awaiting extradition back to Louisiana where he will face his charges.