(EUREKA, Ill.) — Four Iowa teens who ran away from home after meeting on Xbox were arrested Tuesday and charged with trespassing at an abandoned home in Eureka, Ill., nearly 360 miles away from home.
The two boys and two girls who ranged in age from 13 to 16 disappeared together Saturday. Before that day, the boys had never met the girls in person, their families told ABC News.
The families haven’t spoken directly with their children since they left, but got word today that the teens were being held at the Woodford County Correctional Facility. When the phone call came that the kids were safe, their parents were ecstatic.
“I hysterically started crying, just overwhelmed with joy. All floods of emotions. Overjoyed, relief, you name it. I couldn’t believe it,” said Judy Hamilton, the mother of Jazlyn Visek, 15, one of the two girls.
Visek ran off with Corey Sunderman, 16, whom she began “dating” after meeting on Xbox.
“This was her first serious boyfriend. He gave her a lot of attention she’s never got from any guys,” Hamilton said.
Their romance may have led to legal trouble, Hamilton said.
“They were cuffed and they are getting charges of trespass, so they will be spending the night in jail,” she said.
Crystal Sunderman, Corey’s mother, told ABC News she was concerned about what will come after the teens return home.
“I’m starting to worry about what am I going to do to keep Corey, to keep him safe … We’ve got to fix whatever it was that made him leave. He’s had some problems at school with bullying but honestly, I don’t know,” she said.
When Visek and Corey Sunderman left town, they were accompanied by Visek’s friend Skie Floyd, 15, and Sunderman’s pal Austin Boggs, 13.
The boys are from Atlantic while the girls are from Shellsburg, Iowa towns that are three and a half hours apart.
The teens were arrested by Illinois police, six hours from Atlantic. After facing an Illinois judge Wednesday, the teens will be allowed to return home, Crystal Sunderman said.
“We’ll probably leave tomorrow morning (for Illinois) in hopes that maybe we can see the kids before they go to court because we haven’t had a chance to talk to them at all,” she said.
The boys vanished Saturday after police brought them to the Sunderman home Friday night for violating the town’s curfew. When Corey’s father Tony woke for work Saturday morning, he realized not only were the boys missing, but so were Crystal Sunderman’s laptop and $400 from the father’s recently cashed paycheck, Crystal Sunderman said.
Also missing was the 1997 gold Jeep Cherokee Tony Sunderman had brought home from his iron and metal recycling job, the mom said. The vehicle, which didn’t have a license, was spotted nearly four hours away in Benton County at around 10 a.m. Saturday, the same county the missing Iowa girls call home.
By the time it was located in Illinois, it had acquired stolen license plates from Atlantic, Forsyth said.
Hamilton said she thinks the teens plotted the escape in advance.
“[Visek] had been planning for a couple weeks at least, and I had no idea,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve learned a valuable lesson on media devices and what you allow your children to do on Xbox or Facebook,” she said. “I admit I was pretty free with Jazlyn and I trusted her, and I think I gave her too much freedom.”
Crystal Sunderman said she tried to be cautious about what her son did online.
“I don’t let him have a Facebook account because I don’t want him meeting people online,” Crystal Sunderman said. “I didn’t realize they could do so much on Xbox.”
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