Missing girl found safe
But the investigation reveals she may have misled her online companion to believe she was a legal adult
A missing 15-year-old Gresham girl, found safe after reportedly running away with a 20-year-old man, claimed to be an adult on her social media sites, police say.
Police have questioned the girl, Kyrsten Roth, and the man she met online, Andrew Calvert, who is originally from Susanville, Calif., but have not arrested him, said Sgt. Claudio Grandjean, Gresham police spokesman.
Instead, the case will be forwarded to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, which will determine which, if any, charges to pursue.
'It's not a clear-cut prosecutable case,' Grandjean said.
When Roth disappeared from her home during the early morning hours of Sunday, Dec. 4, her mother feared the girl had been lured away by an older man she met online. Mother Michelle Roth combed through phone records and discovered frequent calls to a number in Susanville - calls that stopped the day the girl vanished.
The worried mother posted fliers asking for help finding the girl, and teamed with media strategist Michelle Bart, who launched a national media blitz on the girl's disappearance, including coverage by the Huffington Post and ABC News.
Meanwhile, Gresham police considered the girl a runaway who was not endangered, which outraged her mother.
A friend of the girl told police she ran into her at a café across the street from Gresham High School on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The girl reportedly gave the friend a phone number that she could be reached at - the same number listed on those phone records.
But when detectives called the number, it had been disconnected.
Break in the case
Police got a break in the case when Detective Tony Cobb discovered a Portland burglary report containing the person of interest's name and phone number. Although the report, which listed the man's cell phone as stolen, was filed on Dec. 9, it wasn't processed until Dec. 13.
Detectives went to the address listed in the report - in the 6200 block of Northeast Multnomah Street in Portland's Rose City Park neighborhood - and found the girl safe and sound.
Roth and Calvert, 20, had posted a craigslist ad seeking a room for rent and two people who lived in the apartment agreed to let them move in. Roth reportedly told her new roommates that she was 18.
'They even said (Calvert) was from Australia and she was from the U.K., and they were both talking with accents,' Grandjean said.
When police arrived, Roth was sleeping alone in a bedroom and Calvert was at work, reportedly at a Gresham call center.
Police interviewed the man. He has no criminal record, and it isn't clear whether he came to Oregon solely to meet the girl, Grandjean said.
But detectives say he was devastated to learn Roth was 15. As proof, he showed them the girl's social network sites in which she claimed to be 18 or older.
Site says she's 20
For example, on one site she claimed to be a 20-year-old Mt. Hood Community College student with a house in Northern California. Her accompanying profile picture shows the heavily made-up girl with carefully styled hair kissing the camera, Grandjean said.
The sites reveal a flirtatious and fictional online persona.
'She presented as if she was older,' Grandjean said, adding that the young woman in the profile photos looked nothing like the teen pictures on the flier her mother circulated.
'I didn't even recognize her,' he said.
Bart, Roth's mother's spokeswoman, said mom is thrilled that her daughter is now home but wants to make sure Gresham police hold Calvert accountable.
She doesn't buy his account that he didn't know how old Roth was.
'As chair of the Northwest Coalition Against Trafficking, that's the excuse they all use,' Bart said. 'If the guy has no criminal history, maybe it's because he hasn't been caught.'
Bart went on to say that Calvert knew Roth's age, but declined to comment on how.
The insistence that the young man must be held criminally liable and that the girl was lured away from home is alarming to Grandjean.
'It's just as important to us as police officers to clear people as it is to convict people,' he said. 'There's bad behavior and decisions on both of their parts.'
Based on police interviews, Roth 'wanted to run away, and it's clear she wanted to run away with Andrew,' Grandjean said. 'The online talks between them that we're looking at are more kids in love than 'To Catch A Predator.' '