A 14-year-old Holland Township girl is back home safe with her family after running away with a man twice her age.
Lt. Mark Bennett with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office says she met up with a 28-year-old on a dating website and talked of leaving for California.
Her mother, who didn't want the family identified, told WZZM 13 the girl left home last Wednesday with Matt Mahaney, whom she met on "Plenty of Fish."
Her family has been concerned about her online dating habits since last year, so her mom says she took her phone and tablet computer away, and put a password on her laptop.
The mother didn't know there's another way to access the Internet.
She hopes more parents will know now.
It's supposed to be for games. But the Nintendo Wii sitting in the bedroom of their Holland Township home was used for anything but a game.
"I had no idea you could get on the Internet until now," said the mother.
The woman says her 14-year-old daughter was using Wii in her sister's room to access the dating site "Plenty of Fish," and telling internet suitors she was 18.
She had no idea until last Wednesday, after her daughter left the house.
The 14-year-old said goodbye to her older sister.
"Said, I'm leaving, and I'll be back later."
When she didn't return by Thursday morning, the mom talked to her ex-husband, her daughter's friends, and then called police.
"My daughter, when I came home from work, she said, 'I think I know who she's with mom.'"
The mother says her 14-year-old was repremanded for online dating last year. She says her older daughter didn't tell her she was back online.
This past week, the mother says Mahaney texted her older daughter's phone repeatedly from a phone they couldn't trace. He and the girl also posted on Facebook where they were going, possibly to try and throw off investigators.
"Possibly looking to travel on to Tennessee, then on to Los Angeles," said Lt. Bennett.
But Lt. Bennett says the girl and the man were actually in Holland the entire time.
Investigators were able to track down a debit card transaction to the area where the Wooden Shoe Motel is located. They knocked on the doors of a few motels before finding the two together at the Wooden Shoe.
"It's not uncommon for a 14-year-old to run away," said Lt. Bennett. "Unfortunately, it is uncommon for this 14-year-old to hook up with this 28-year-old."
Lt. Bennett says the girl was not hurt, and they have no reason to believe she was held against her will.
The mother says her daughter is bipolar and was off her medications for a week. She's relieved her daughter is okay and wants other parents to know the valuable lesson she has learned.
"You need to watch your kids better than I thought I was," she said.
Mahaney is being held in the Ottawa County Jail.
Detectives say he has a criminal record, including assault and destruction of property.
They expect him to be formally charged with criminal sexual conduct Thursday.