Two Illinois men are charged with kidnapping and conspiracy in the case of an Olive Branch, Mississippi teenager.
30-year-old Juan Andrade and 29-year-old Jason St. Aubin both of Creal Springs, Illinois, were arrested in Illinois Tuesday.
14-year-old Aubrey Peal was found safe at an Illinois fire station Sunday after authorities say the suspects used a video game messaging app to lure the teen from his Olive Branch home a week ago.
Aubrey went to school Wednesday. His parents say he wanted to go. Aubrey is slowly opening up about what happened to him. His parents say he thought he was helping a friend, but instead he was being manipulated for months.
“I walked in the room. He was sitting there and looked at me just as calm as he could and said hey,” said father John Peal.
John and Alicia Peal described seeing their 14-year-old son after making the 3-and-a-half hour trip to Illinois to pick him up.
“I couldn’t grab him fast enough,” said Alicia Peal.
“He wrapped his arms around us and told us he was fine. And I asked him ‘son, do you wanna go home?’ And he said ‘yes please’,” said John Peal.
Aubrey had been chatting with video gamers on a messaging app called “Discord.” Aubrey’s parents say the two men arrested for kidnapping manipulated him for months, claiming to be suicidal.
“One of the suspects we know for sure convinced my son that he was suicidal. My son believes he was saving this person’s life,” said John Peal.
“He wanted to make sure the person wasn’t suicidal like he told him he was. He did everything he could to save this person. That’s how this person manipulated his mind and convinced him he was a friend,” said John Peal. “Over several months his mind was manipulated by someone he met on Discord.”
Aubrey’s parents say it’s not clear exactly what happened to their son while he was in Illinois. He needs time and counseling to come to terms with the situation.
“Right now, my son still believes these people are his friends. He believes he saved these people from suicide,” said John Peal.
Social media and video games are off limits for now. The Peal’s say they just want their son to have a happy healthy life.
“These predators have ways of attracting children beyond what I ever thought was possible,” said John Peal.
“Technology is more…sophisticated than anyone, than any of us could ever imagine,” said Alicia Peal. “I’m still terrified. I just want him, I want him to feel safe. I want my whole family to feel safe again.”
The two suspects will be brought here to Mississippi in a few days to face charges.
Discord previously provided the following statement to Local 24:
“We take our community’s safety very seriously and are constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures. Discord is an over 13 platform and we insist that all users adhere to this policy. All chats are opt-in so that the user must accept an invitation, and we urge our community only to chat with individuals whom they know. We have also created a number of security measures to help block unknown users from contacting others. As with any digital communication platform there are risks. We urge parents to teach their children the risks of communicating online and the importance of chatting to only those they know. We will continue to work with our community and law enforcement agencies when appropriate to develop the best practices to ensure our community’s safety.”
The company also says this link, https://blog.disc