On October 24th, 2015, a 16-year old boy named Steven Jones was taken from his home, in the middle of the night. Yesterday. Not even a full 24 hours ago, a kidnapping occurred right under our noses. That's why I have to solve this case. We currently have no leads, and no evidence. All we know is that there wasn't a scuffle, or a fight. That's it. Even the unsolved case of Tara Calico had more to go off of than we do.
But that won't stop me.
I knocked on the door of the Jones household, and after a few seconds, was met by Steven's mother. She was a plump, older woman, with curly brown hair and blue eyes, red from crying and worry. Her face lit up upon seeing me.
"Oh, officer, you don't know how glad I am to see you." She started to cry, and began to dab her eyes with the sleeve of her sweater. I put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her.
"Don't cry, ma'am. We'll find your son, I promise." I said, as I let myself in, closing the door behind me. "I just need to ask you a few questions, so we have something to go off of."
“Oh, yes, yes. Please sit down here, sir.” She led me to her living room, which contained a coffee table and floral patterning everywhere. She took a seat in one of her armchairs, and I took a seat in the couch across from her. I pulled out a list of questions I should ask, some already written down for me, others scrawled in the margins with my messy handwriting. I asked some of the standard ones. Does anyone have a grudge against your family? What school does your son go to? Is your son seeing anyone? Has your son displayed strange behaviors? Mrs. Jones answered every question without hesitation. None of her answers were out of the ordinary. However, I got an excellent source of information when I asked one of my own questions.
“Mrs. Jones, there have been many kidnapping cases caused by personal information being given out over social media and online games. Is your son active on any social websites?”
“Well, he has a Twitter and a Facebook, but he hasn’t used those in years. There’s this one game that he’s always on, it’s called… robots? Road blocks?” Mrs. Jones struggled to name the game. I, on the other hand, knew what she was talking about.
“ROBLOX?” I interrupted her search for words. My nephew was obsessed with it, and wouldn’t stop talking about it. He’d talk about all the games he would play with his friends, the mean people he met, and the games he tried making.
“Yes, I think so.” Mrs. Jones nodded. “It’s the game with all the little square people.” It sounded familiar, so I confirmed her guesses.
“Ma’am, may I get your son’s account info?” I asked.
“Yes, one second, officer…” Mrs. Jones got out of her seat, and walked over to a nearby computer desk. She looked through the piles of papers and unfinished homework and pulled out a sticky note with Steven’s ROBLOX credentials on it. She handed it to me, and put a firm hand on my shoulder.
“Please find my son.” She said, her voice cracking. I promised her that I would, and I meant it. I left her house, and got back inside my car. I drove it down to the police station, and after quite a few of legalities, I got permission to check his account out at my computer. I pulled up ROBLOX, and logged in as Steven. I was brought to what I assumed was the homepage, with Steven's icon on the left, and a friendly message saying "Hello, [REDACTED]!" Listed below that were his friends, and the games he'd recently played. They were excellent leads, so I poked around those areas, and checked out his chats and private messages, taking screenshots of anything I found even remotely suspicious.
Nothing really stuck out to me, however, I decided to look further into a user by the name of [REDACTED], who Steven referred to as "Simone," and occasionally "Sim." She and Steven seemed to be dating, as evidenced by their instant messages.
- i love u stupid
- me too nerd
Nothing was incredibly suspicious about her, but seeing as she had a close relationship with Steven, perhaps she could give me some information. She wasn't online, and I'm sure messaging her telling her it was the police would be a bit suspicious, so I simply looked through their instant messaging and private messages. After some digging, the most recent game they played was a game called "Town of Robloxia." I wouldn't be able to find anything in there, since they weren't actively playing there, but I had a good idea of what I could do next.
It was about time for me to end my shift anyways, so I decided I'd stop investigating for the day. Before leaving, however, I made sure to email ROBLOX developers to see if I could get the chatlogs from the server they were in. Seeing as this was a police situation, I'd probably get the logs by tomorrow morning. With that, I logged out, shut off the computer, said my goodbyes, and drove home for supper. That night, it was hard to sleep. I had gotten leads on a case, and I'd soon find out if they were any good.
The next day, I arrived at the station, and was pleased to find the chatlogs in my email. I opened them up, and skimmed through them until I found Steven and Simon privately chatting at each other. I was incredibly disappointed to see that they were only talking about silly, stereotypical teenager things. I was about ready to give up, as for twenty minutes, all I could see was mindless chatter, until I saw an alarming message from Simone.
- we should meet irl sometime ;)
My energy came back to me. My determination to solve this case was reignited. I read carefully through the chat, being so cautious as to read over each line multiple times.
- uh lol sim r u sure we can even do that?? i mean what if u live in china or smth
- no lol i dont i live in oklahoma xD
- whoa really nice i live there too. where?
- uhhh blanchard i think
- dude i live in blanchard
It continued like that, with the two discussing different landmarks, such as Burger King and McDonalds, where they could meet. I let out a sigh. The case was probably nothing more than two irresponsible teens and a worrisome mother. I decided to go see where I could find the two.
"Hey, Smith." I called over to my nearby colleague.
"Do we have any teenage girls by the name of Simone in this city?" I asked.
"Uhh, not sure. I'm going to go look that up. I'll come back with answers in a little bit." With that, he went off to go look it up. After he was gone, I received a push notification from ROBLOX, saying that Simone was chatting to me. Er, Steven. I went to the website, and saw a rather disturbing message.
- I suggest you stop, officer.
What? I had many, many questions, all of which I really didn't want to ask, or get an answer to, either. I closed out the window, not wanting to reply. Instead, I continued viewing the chat logs, just in case. The rest of the chat seemed to confirm my suspicions. They planned to meet at a nearby ice cream shop late at night, where they'd hang out, get an ice cream, and maybe stop at a few places. It seemed like their next destination would be her house, for some partying or something. I imagined it'd be as simple as going over there and giving them a good scolding. Of course, that instant message still gnawed at the back of my brain.
After the chatlogs showed that they both left the server shortly after that conversation, I closed out the window, and went over to Smith's computer.
"How's it coming?" Smith stayed silent, and then after a few clicks, turned around in his chair.
"There's a Simone in this town, age 15, surname Crawford."
"Great, where does she live?"
"That's the problem, officer."
My heart skipped a beat. "What's the problem, Smith?"
"The Crawford household burned down two years ago. There were no survivors."