TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A female middle school student surnamed Liu (劉) has been missing since Aug. 29 and it appears that she may have met with a convicted sex offender before disappearing.
A 14-year-old student left her home in Kaohsiung on Saturday (Aug. 29) and took a Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR) train to Hsinchu. As soon as she boarded the waiting automobile of a stranger, her family and friends lost contact with her.
Anxious, her mother called the police for help, but they found that her GPS coordinates were constantly changing and they were unable to pinpoint her location. A user of the popular online message board PTT found through data comparison and analysis that the email and phone number of the man who met with the girl matched that of a 31-year-old man surnamed Lo (羅) who was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting two middle school girls in 2018, reported ETtoday.
Lo has been convicted on two counts of sexual assault, and according to the court verdict, he worked as a district manager in a security company in 2018 and was responsible for interviewing new candidates. He took advantage of his position to find underage girls looking for part-time work on the job-hunting website.
In two separate incidents, he interviewed two different middle school girls. In both cases, he provided them with beverages that were laced with an incapacitating agent. Lo then proceeded to sexually assault them and document the act with photos and videos.
The Taipei District Court found Lo guilty of sexual assault, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, the case is currently under appeal.
Lo. (PTT photos)
Police confirmed that indeed they suspect that Lo could be involved in the latest incident, and they are tracking his movements. The girl's mother said that her daughter met the man through the internet in May.
She said that the man told her daughter that she could work for him playing video games and sent a mobile phone, cell number, and cash. On Saturday afternoon, she took a THSR train from Kaohsiung to Hsinchu, but once she stepped into a waiting car with an unknown driver, she was never heard from again.
The police conducted an in-depth investigation and found that the mobile phone GPS signals of the girl and the male netizen were constantly changing. After repeated tracking, the car, which has a license plate that starts with "7923," was finally found on Minquan Road in New Taipei City's Tamsui District at 2 p.m. on Monday (Aug. 31).
However, police discovered that the man behind the wheel was a 37-year-old man surnamed Lu (盧) and neither Lo nor the girl was at the scene, reported ETtoday. Police took Lu in for questioning, while the whereabouts of Lo and the student remain unknown.
Lu told police that he had encountered a young girl at the Hsinchu THSR station on Saturday afternoon. He said that he took her to Huanhe Road in New Taipei City's Yonghe District.
The would-be cabbie claimed that after he dropped her off at the riverbank, he left her on her own. He said he did not know of her whereabouts after that encounter.
He said that he purchased the car from a friend surnamed Chiu (邱) to operate as a taxi, but that ownership has not yet been transferred.
The case is still under investigation and the authorities hope to bring the girl home safely.
Update: 09/01 11:50 a.m.
Police at 8:50 a.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 1) found the teen alive along with the convicted sex offender who allegedly lured her away in an apartment on Zhongxing Road in Hsinchu County's Zhudong Township.