Amanda Randolph says she was just 15 when she “met” a 44-year-old man in an online chat room.
Amanda was looking for someone to talk to. She was lonely. All the attention at home was focused on her older sister, who was pregnant with twins.
“I was telling him that basically my home life sucked because of my older sister. I didn’t feel like anyone noticed me at home,” she says. The man, whose name is withheld for privacy, seemed genuinely interested in her. He gave her all the attention she wasn’t getting from her family.
Soon, Amanda says he began enticing her to leave her house in rural Illinois to visit him in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“I live next to a cornfield that’s next to a cornfield…He was telling me there’s beaches here, and they’ve got all these shops,” says Amanda, who knew the man’s age. “He said, ‘If you come here, we can do all these things. Go places.'”