North Carolina teen missing for a year found after Facebook tip
ATLANTA (CNN) — A 17-year-old North Carolina girl who police believe had been held captive in Georgia for more than a year was found after her parents received a tip via Facebook, authorities said.
The man accused of holding her in his home in an Atlanta suburb was arrested Saturday and faces several charges.
Michael Wysolovski, 31, is accused of false imprisonment, aggravated sodomy, cruelty to children and interference with custody. He was denied bond at a court appearance Monday.
More charges could follow as the investigation continues, Gwinnett County prosecutor Traci Cason said. Wysolovski faces a maximum sentence of life plus 35 years, she said. Police said Wysolovski held the girl captive in his two-story home in Duluth for 13 months, CNN affiliate WSB reported.
Authorities said she disappeared from her parents’ home last year. Her family told CNN affiliate WSOC they woke up May 23 to find the front door unlocked and their daughter gone. The FBI had offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.
Cason said that the suspect and the victim met in an online chat room. “After talking for some time, the defendant traveled to North Carolina and picked the victim up about a mile from her home,” Cason said.
“The investigation has revealed that the victim’s movement was restricted by a gate that went from the floor to the ceiling. While she would have some freedom of movement at times, she was threatened that if she left him, she would be arrested,” Cason said.
Online tip from overseas
It was a tip posted on Facebook that led authorities to the house in Duluth, her parents said.
The girl’s mother said a woman in Romania contacted them online. “I got a message that said, ‘I’ve been in communication with your daughter and she’s alive and she wants to come home,’ and from there it has been like an avalanche,” Shaunna Burns told CNN affiliate WSOC.
Authorities raided Wysolovski’s home just hours after the parents received the message. They found the teen inside. She is now back at home in North Carolina. Investigators said that although she did not know exactly where she was being held captive, she was able to share a picture of the house with a woman in Romania — and that clue led police to her location.
Her mother, Shaunna Burns, has posted several messages and links to stories about her daughter on Facebook, including a post Tuesday saying a rose that only blooms once a year had bloomed this week.
“… I can not tell you how much the Lord has moved in our family this week, but this is just one of those examples!”
Neighbors of the suspect said they never imagined Wysolovski had someone hidden inside the quiet home. “Well, first of all, it’s heartbreaking,” Kerry Fetter told CNN affiliate WSB. “It was very shocking to know that in our neighborhood … it’s just not right.”
Another man said he had seen the teen unloading groceries, and she waved back to say hello. He said he did not suspect she might be being held captive.
“I thought nobody was living there actually because everything was closed up, the drapes, the blinds,” the neighbor, who did not identify himself, told CNN affiliate WSB.
Parents: Rescue is a miracle
“There are changes in my daughter. She is not the same person that left and that is definitely the hardest part of this,” her father, Anthony Burns, told WSOC.
They said the girl was exhausted and has lost 15-20 pounds since they last saw her. “This is our child, our baby,” Shaunna Burns told WSOC. “We … would never hurt her and the idea that someone did is really, really hard.”
Still, they call her rescue a miracle. “Families need to know don’t give up no matter how much time passes,” her father, told WSOC. “There is hope that you just have to keep believing that the one lead will come.”