A SCHOOLGIRL who vanished from one of Australia's wealthiest suburbs last month has been rescued from the clutches of a convicted killer more than twice her age after he groomed her on Snapchat and flew her to America for sex.
Police traced the 16-year-old girl from Sydney's upper north shore and 39-year-old Sean Price to the basement of his mother's New York home on May 12 after a joint operation between Australian Federal Police, the New York Police Department and Interpol, news.com.au can reveal.
Price, a career criminal whose lengthy rap sheet includes a 1995 conviction for negligent homicide, allegedly groomed the teen online for seven months before sending her money to buy a plane ticket.
Lurid details of the case were revealed in documents tendered to Brooklyn Magistrate's Court where Price was yesterday refused a bail application.
Police will allege the Australian teen suffers from an anxiety disorder and was having family problems when she met Price on social media app Snapchat last October.
Their online relationship intensified over several weeks, during which time it was decided the girl, who cannot be named because of her age, would run away from home and fly to America to be with him.
In December, Price wired the teen around $US1,600 ($A2,150). By February he was soliciting - and receiving - naked pictures of the underage teen, according to court papers.
On April 11, the girl's parents lodged a missing person's report with NSW Police after she failed to return to their Lindfield family home.
That's the same day US police claim the teen touched down at Los Angeles International Airport, where she was met by Price, who rented a car and drove the girl more than 12,000 km to New York.
Price admitted having sex with the girl in several states during the journey before arriving in Brooklyn on April 16, according to court papers.
On April 30, the NYPD received information from both the AFP and Interpol that the Australian teen was in New York. The US Department of Homeland Security was also called on to assist.
After getting consent from Price, authorities found on his cell phone a number of explicit photоs of the teen dating back tо Februarу, according tо court papers
It is not clear how long the girl was missing before Australian authorities realised she had left the country undetected.
US Police allege the girl went to drastic measures to elude detection, including mailing the SIM card of her mobile phone to Price in New York before departing Australia.
News.com.au contacted the AFP for comment and the agency issued the following statement on Thursday afternoon.
"On Tuesday 11 April 2017, a 16-year-old girl from Lindfield was reported missing to NSW Police.
"A number of inquiries were made by police who were able to determine the teenager had left the country and travelled to the United States.
"Collaboration between the Australian Federal Police and US law enforcement officials led to the girl being located in New York State in the company of a 39-year-old man on Friday, 12 May.
"The man was arrested and charged with a number of offences relating to his conduct and interactions with the girl and will face court action in the US.
"The girl has since returned to Australia. Officers from the AFP and NSW Police Force continue to liaise with the girl's parents and US authorities to examine the circumstances that led to her departure."
Price fronted a Brooklyn court briefly on Wednesday to make a bail application, which was refused on the grounds that the address he submitted - his mother's residence and the principal crime scene - was inappropriate.
"Any offer doesn't give the court much confidence," Federal Magistrate Judge Viktor Pohorelsky said, according to the NY Daily News.
Police allege that when they turned up at Price's mother's house looking for the girl, she told them they were not home. A subsequent search uncovered her son and the teen hiding in the basement.
US Assistant Attorney Monica Castro told the court Price had 11 prior convictions dating back to 1990, many of which remain sealed.
In 1995 he was jailed for criminally negligent homicide after crashing a car at high speed, killing a passenger.
Price also had convictions for robbery, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, criminal trespass, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a controlled substance, Ms Castro said.
On Friday, he was arraigned on charges of third degree rape and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
He faces at least ten years if convicted.
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