MODESTO, CA. (KTXL/CNN) – Police say a former Marine from California used Facebook to lure two teenage girls to a Nevada hotel.
But investigators say they turned the tables and used social media to find him and bring the girls to safety.
37-year-old Nicholas Wessel is sitting in a jail in Nevada facing a long list of charges from kidnapping to sexual assault.
His alleged victims, just 14 and 15 years old. The girls from Modesto went missing on Sunday.
“They connected with each other over Facebook and that’s how they began the relationship,” Ivan Valenica, Modesto Police Department said.
Police found all three Tuesday night in a hotel in Sparks, that’s about 200 miles away from home.
The girls were shaken.
Investigators say Wessel raped the 14 year old.
How did law enforcement find them?
The social media site that connected the girls to the man, also led police to their rescue.
“Facebook assisted us and gave us their last IP address where they logged in from and it came back to the Nugget in Sparks Nevada,” Valenica said.
Detectives believe Wessel convinced the teens to travel with him over the weekend.
They say they think the suspect may have lied about his identity and age.
“We talked to friends that had known about this relationship, everybody believed he was 27,” Valenica said.
Police also found a camera that they say Wessel used to take pictures of the girls.
For Modesto PD, it’s the type of case they are seeing too often.
“There’s definitely an increase in runaways involved with social media meeting somebody from out of town and a lot of times it’s an adult that they meet and the adults are able to manipulate these kids,” Valenica said.
Wessel is now jailed in Nevada on felony charges
The former Marine was once based at California’s Camp Pendleton.