An Elyria man appeared in federal court Friday in connection with the case of a missing teenage girl from California.
According to a news release from the FBI, Jeremy Cruz, 39, was arrested in Sheffield Lake on April 18 and transferred Friday into federal custody. He has been charged with interstate transport of child pornography, and made an initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan D. Greenberg.
Cruz was arrested in Sheffield Lake, where he was in the company of a 14-year-old girl who had been reported missing three days earlier in Santa Maria, California. Santa Maria police determined she'd been talking online with a man they believed was Cruz.
According to an affidavit filed Monday by Special Agent Casey Carty with the FBI, the girl left behind two notes to her parents stating she was running away with her boyfriend and his cousin, and a search of her phone records showed she had been in contact with Cruz, who she had met online, and she later told police she had been communicating with him on an almost daily basis for some time.
Cruz told police he had picked the girl up near her home in Santa Maria about April 15 and driven her back to Ohio, arriving in Elyria on April 17. He and the girl told police they had taken short breaks along the road but did not check into any hotels along the way back to Ohio. The pair went to Cruz's cousin's apartment in Sheffield Lake, where he was arrested. The girl was found hiding in one of the back bedrooms.
Police said Cruz's phone had numerous photos of what they believe is child pornography. These include more than 40 images and one video involving prepubescent children as young as 4 years old involved in sexual acts with adults.
The girl was returned to her family in California. Man faces federal charges Jeremy Cruz, 39, of Elyria, appears in court in connection with missing Calif. teen