14-Year-Old Girl Found in Pendleton Barracks May Have Met Marine on Tinder, New Documents Show

Main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
This Nov. 13, 2013 file photo shows the main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)

Investigative documents reviewed by Military.com are giving more insight into the timeline and events that led to a 14-year-old girl, who was missing for weeks, being discovered in the barracks room of a junior Marine at a California base.

While the young girl at the heart of this story went missing in early June, federal investigators concluded that she had been at Camp Pendleton for only about 24 hours and appeared to have met the Marine whose barracks room she would come to stay in just a day prior.

The documents also show that investigators have begun to look into the claims that the girl was a victim of human trafficking. So far, investigators are reporting that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which is being aided by several other agencies, has been unable to find any corroborating evidence to back up those claims.

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The documents seen by Military.com say that when agents first interviewed the Marine and the victim, both said they met on the dating app "Tinder" where the girl used a different name and claimed to be 22. The Marine told investigators the connection happened on June 26 -- a day before he would help drive her onto Camp Pendleton -- and admitted to having had sexual contact with the girl in his barracks room.

The investigative documents also note that the Marine allowed agents to take all the data from his cell phone, including later messages in which the victim admitted to lying to the Marine about her age.

Capt. Charles Palmer, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Logistics Group, confirmed to Military.com that a Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group, was taken into custody for questioning by NCIS on June 28.

"The Marine was questioned by NCIS and released to his command pending further investigation," Palmer said, adding that the Marine was not kept overnight. Jeff Houston, a spokesman for NCIS, told Military.com that no charges have been filed so far and no arrests have been made in connection with this case.

The documents reviewed by Military.com say that the girl was interviewed by agents again last week, and that she told them she was kept locked up and sold out for sex by a pimp she knew only by a first name. Agents say they looked into the girl's claims of being a human trafficking victim but so far have not found evidence to support them.

In a TikTok video posted last week, the girl's aunt, Casaundra Perez, alleged that her niece had been a victim of human trafficking and accused the military of a cover-up.

Perez also faulted base security for allowing her niece on base unquestioned.

"Our family is worried about retaliation from the military and the man that has trafficked my niece," Perez said in the video.

The documents outline a timeline when the girl was on the base.

On June 27, the Marine; a friend of his, who is another service member; and the young female victim drove through a security checkpoint for Camp Pendleton. The documents say personnel at the gate asked for the identification of the Marine and his friend, but not the girl.

Once on base, the Marine and the female victim went to his barracks room, where they spent time with the Marine's roommate. On the morning of June 28, the pair of Marines left the victim in the barracks room, but eventually the roommate returned and kicked the girl out of the room. She used another service member's cell phone to get the Marine to let her back into the barracks room.

However, two Navy corpsmen found the girl wandering the barracks building.

Entries from a barracks duty logbook posted to social media in the days after the arrest show that the girl was discovered around 9 a.m., and she was removed to a separate location within 30 minutes. Agents from NCIS arrived within hours, the logbook shows.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the victim was last seen by her family on June 9 -- more than two weeks before it appears she encountered the Marine who would eventually bring her to Camp Pendleton. NBC reported that San Diego law enforcement officials said her family reported her missing on June 13.

Both the documents reviewed by Military.com and local reports noted that the girl's family told officials that she had a history of running away from home.

Houston said that the San Diego Sheriff's Department and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force are assisting the investigation.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Girl Found in Camp Pendleton Barracks Was Raped by Marine, Family Alleges

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