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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Maryland man told federal investigators he had communicated online with a 12-year-old girl from Blue Springs over the past five months before allegedly picking her up early Sunday morning and setting off an AMBER Alert. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that William Dela Cruz, 22, is charged with enticing a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity.

Dela Cruz and the girl were found in Wentzville, Mo., on Sunday afternoon after citizens’ tips led police to an area near a gas station where they had been spotted. Dela Cruz was arrested and the girl was reported to be safe.

After the girl was reported missing, the Blue Springs Police Department investigated and found she’d been communicating with Dela Cruz using a voice and text app called “DISCORD,” which is popular with online gamers. They had been communicating since November through DISCORD, Facebook Messenger, Skype and landline phones.

Investigators discovered he had been using the DISCORD name “King William,” and she had been using the name “William’s Queen.” Court documents say previously she had told Dela Cruz that she was 15 years old, to which he responded that they needed to wait three more years until she was 18.

The girl told investigators that she and the suspect were in an online relationship after meeting through the online game “ONIGIRI,” a fantasy online role-playing game.

Dela Cruz told investigators the girl gave him several different ages, but believed she was either 16 or 17. He said on April 6 the girl told him that she had run away from home, and her parents had forbidden her from using Facebook. He said together with his brother Jason Dela Cruz, they drove from Maryland to Blue Springs to pick the girl up with the intention of returning to the East Coast with her.

During the drive on Interstate 70, the brothers got into an argument and Jason later told authorities that William had told him that the girl was 19 years old. Concerned about her actual age, Jason dropped them off at a gas station and continued driving. He eventually stopped near Columbus, Ohio and turned himself in, but he hasn’t been charged with any crime.

William Dela Cruz said he attempted to get a hotel room, but didn’t have enough money, so he and the girl slept in the lobby, and at some point they slept in a wooded area near the gas station where they were found. Dela Cruz said during that time he realized he had a Facebook friend request from the girl’s mom and accepted it, and saw a post about her disappearance where her real age of 12 was given.

Court documents say that despite knowing how old she really was, he still had sex with her. Investigators went to the wooded area and found numerous personal items belonging to both the suspect and the girl.

Dela Cruz had an initial appearance on Monday, and is in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday. He has been assigned a public defender. If convicted, Dela Cruz faces a minimum of 10 years in prison with the possibility for life and a potential $250,000 fine.