SACRAMENTO, CA (KOVR/CNN) – Authorities are crediting an airline employee who trusted her gut instincts for preventing two teenage girls from getting on a flight to meet an online predator.
It was just a typical day for American Airline agent Denice Miracle when two girls, 15 and 17, came to her ticket counter. The two had a number of small bags but no ID.
"I think the way they kept looking back-and-forth at each other, like they weren't really sure. And then they were texting someone on the phone, and that person was giving them answers,” Miracle said.
Miracle noticed the ticket from Sacramento to New York was purchased online, and the credit card used was in a different name.
The agent says the whole situation didn’t feel right.
"It was a first-class ticket. It was very expensive. I told a supervisor, 'I'm going to call the sheriff. It just doesn't feel right to me,’” she said.
When deputies arrived, the teenagers told them they met a man called “Drey” on Instagram, who invited them to New York for the weekend to earn $2000 for some modeling in music videos.
The girls had each told their parents they were spending the night at the other’s home.
Deputy Todd Sanderson says the ticket had no return, but the teens didn’t know that.
"They were somewhat flippant about – ‘No, that can't be true’ – and I said, ‘No, the airline says you have a one-way ticket, and in my belief, you're going back there not to do the things that you think you were going to be doing.' And they said, 'I wouldn't let anything happen that I didn't want.' And I said, ‘Well, you probably wouldn't have a choice in the matter,’” Sanderson said.
Authorities quickly investigated “Drey” on Instagram, but it was too late.
"We attempted to look him up on Instagram. Just a few minutes after our contact with him, he erased all of his profiles on social media,” Sanderson said.
Authorities believe this person is an expert at befriending potential victims online and luring them away. They believe the girls would most certainly have become victims.
Sanderson says Denice Miracle’s name suits her.
"She probably really was their miracle that day, whether they want to believe it or not,” he said.
Deputies say when they notified the teenagers’ parents, they were in shock. They hope the story is a good lesson for parents to make sure they are keeping a close eye on their children’s social media accounts.
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