34-year-old Kraig David Van Winkle is accused of allegedly kidnapping a 13-year-old girl from Springdale, Arkansas. Van Winkle is said to have taken the girl back to his home in Schertz, Texas. According to Google Maps, that’s at least a 20 hour round trip drive.
Van Winkle reportedly met the girl on the video chat site Omegle. Again, for the uninitiated, Omegle is a website whose tagline is “Talk to strangers!” Omegle lets people engage in video chats with random people. There are no real age checks on Omegle.
Van Winkle’s conversation with the girl moved from Omegle to Snapchat. He told the girl during their chats that he could ‘take care of her’ at his home in Texas. The FBI was able to arrest Van Winkle at his home and rescue the girl. Van Winkle has been charged with one count of interstate kidnapping of a minor and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. You can’t cross those state lines, dude. That’s when the feds get involved. He’s looking at a potential life sentence on federal kidnapping charges.
Once again, I can’t stress this enough, Omegle is not an app. There’s no icon to look for on any of your kid’s devices. It’s a website that you have to check the device’s browser history to see if it’s being accessed. Any device with a web browser, and an internet connection and a camera can access the video chats on Omegle. And if you let your kids use one of these devices without supervision, you’re just opening a window to your kids’ room for predators.