A Florida cab driver has admitted to Missouri investigators that he kidnapped and raped an Omaha middle school girl last fall.
Terry Turner, 52, of Arcadia, Florida, has been sentenced by a judge to 25-years in prison. According to prosecutor Kristen Ellis, under Missouri law, he must serve 21-years of the sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Turner pleaded guilty to all the charges. He could have received 30-years if convicted. The victim's mother tells WOWT 6 News she's pleased with sentence -- in part -- because her daughter won't have to testify. She added her daughter is doing "awesome" now.
Last October, investigators said the two met in an online dating site. Turner picked up the girl outside Morton Middle School and drove her to Missouri where she was sexually assaulted.
The girl's principal and school resource officer were key in tracking down her whereabouts that afternoon.
It's not clear if Omaha prosecutors will pursue local charges against Turner when he is eventually released.
Fifty-two-year-old Terry Turner' appeared in a Missouri courtroom Wednesday. The judge continued the arraignment until October 30, following Turner's request for a public defender.
He now faces charges in Nebraska, a warrant has been issued for his arrest for child enticement, sexual assault using an electronics communication device and visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct. The last 2 carry a penalty of 3-50 years in prison.
The 52-year-old Florida man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old Omaha girl is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday. WOWT 6 News was first to speak to the victim's mother on Friday, who is pleased her daughter is getting the help she needs at Immanuel Hospital.
Terry A. Turner, of Arcadia, Florida, is still being held in Missouri, where he is charged with kidnapping and rape. The cab driver is being held on $100,000 bond.
Turner and the teen were found in his car in east of Kansas City Thursday afternoon after leaving Morton Middle School in Omaha that morning. When she got off the bus, she never went to school. Instead, she got in his car, police said.
WOWT 6 News has learned Omaha Police are expected to file at least three felony counts against Turner including child enticement and child pornography.
Investigators say the two met each other at a dating website called Waplog.com. The girl said she was 14 in her profile. The mother tells WOWT 6 News that a number of older men, besides Turner, have reached out to her daughter on the site.
It's not clear if investigators can do anything about the others who were seemingly courting her.
The mother said they do not have internet access at home and her daughter does not have a smartphone. However, the dating website converts any posts to text messages on the 7th grader's older-style phone. The teen, who is a cancer survivor, apparently contacted some of the men on the bus to and from school and while her family was sleeping.
The mother said she considered herself vigilant in monitoring her daughter's use of the Nook and phone. She adds that her daughter cleared out the history and covered her tracks.
On Thursday afternoon, the Lafayette County Sheriff's Office in Missouri received information about the kidnapping. The young teen had reportedly been in the company of Turner, possibly traveling back to Florida, where Turner is from.
The victim was picked up from Morton Middle School in Omaha on Thursday morning after she had left the bus outside of school around 7:30 a.m. Turner and the girl had apparently been communicating via an online dating website for several weeks.
The parents of the child were alerted to the abduction when school officials called to ask why the girl was not in school.
A big break came when Assistant Principal Julie Gall noticed Turner's online profile photo indicated the cab company he worked for in Florida.
When reached on the phone, Terry Turner's Florida boss told the Morton staff and investigators that he told her he was driving to Kentucky to pick up his niece -- and asked her to wire money to Omaha. She called him on his cell -- and he answered.
"That phone call made him stop traveling -- and sit with her," said Morton Middle School Assistant Principal Julie Gall. "Everything started to fall into place when she described the car -- said where he was going -- he had said he was in Omaha. It was kind of a blur."
Turner's movements were tracked through investigative techniques used by the Omaha Police Department, Lafayette County Sheriff's Office and the Western Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.
The girl wasn't responding to calls or texts from her Omaha parents. But she had been in contact with Morton School Resource Officer Ron Beasley and that gave authorities a GPS fix on her location. She trusted him. "She and I had lunch together the day before because of some of the issues she's had. She knew that she could confide in me. That's why she kept calling -- to keep that contact with me."
That location turned out to be in Lafayette County -- 3-and-a-half hours south of Omaha, outside of Kansas City. Deputies were sent to an area south of I-70 and H Highway, east of Odessa, to search for the teenager and the suspect.
The victim's mother told us, "It calmed me down a bit because I knew she was alive. All this time had passed and he could have done whatever he wanted to do and left her. The one thing I keep looking at is she is home. I have her. He don't. The ground don't and the good Lord don't. I still have her."
Turner's vehicle was parked down a field road next to a pond where deputies located it. Turner was taken into custody and the teenage girl was placed into protective custody. The girl was released to her parents Thursday night. Her mom says she is doing okay under the traumatic circumstances.
"I do feel that if it wasn't for Mrs. Gall, Officer Beasley, Detective Spizirri and Mr. Brandl (the school principal), my daughter wouldn't be here today. I honestly feel that," said the girl's mother. "He has a girlfriend and grandchildren in Florida. I don't think she was leaving that field."
The Nebraska State Patrol Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force said in today's world, just monitoring a child's internet time and social media pages isn't enough. With new apps and new avenues to get on the internet, the experts say communication about what a child is seeing is needed.
Sgt. Eric Jones with ICAC said www.netsmartz.org is a helpful website for parents looking for tips on monitoring their child's technology use.