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Dunnellon man travels to Ohio to meet Minor, ‘World of Warcraft’ helps Police locate him

On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Major Crimes Detective Henrik Osthed arrested 31-year-old Thomas Ebersole (W/M, DOB: 06/11/1992) for Traveling to Meet a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity, Interfering with Child Custody, and Sheltering an Unmarried Minor.

On January 3, 2024, Detective Osthed was contacted by a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requesting assistance with locating a missing 16-year-old from Ohio. Investigators determined that the juvenile victim’s World of Warcraft (a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game”) account was utilized at 2390 SW Shorewood Drive, in Dunnellon, on the same day. Further investigation revealed that this was Thomas Ebersole’s home address, and his World of Warcraft account was also accessed at the location.

Law enforcement made contact with Ebersole at his home, at which time he initially denied knowing the juvenile victim. However, he ultimately admitted that he had driven to Ohio to meet the victim and brought her back to his home. Ebersole also stated he was in a romantic relationship with the juvenile victim and was going to hide her in his home with plans for her to become his wife. Ebersole provided Detective Osthed with Discord (an internet-based communications application) messages that further outlined his plans to meet the victim in Ohio and engage in sexual activity despite knowing that he was committing a crime.

Ebersole was placed under arrest and transported to the Marion County Jail, where he remains without bond.

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