A Houston mother of four was arrested Tuesday and remains in jail after allegedly starting a sexual relationship with a Canadian teenager through the online game "World of Warcraft," and then flying to his town and luring him away from home, MyFoxHouston.com reported.
Lauri Price, 42, thought she could get around U.S. statutory rape laws by having sex with the 16-year-old in Canada, where that is the legal age of consent, Harris County investigators told MyFoxHouston.
Authorities say the substitute teacher started having an online sexual relationship with the boy, then 15 years old, in September 2008 after meeting him through the Internet video game, said Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
"When she traveled to Canada, she actually took the boy from his home and they had a large statewide manhunt in Canada,” Harris County Prosecutor Eric Devlin told MyFox. “The child was missing for about 36 hours."
Police say Price and the teen were found in a bed and breakfast. The 16-year-old was taken home.
Price came back to Harris County where she was booked into jail.
"If she does make bond she can't have any contact with her children or any child under the age of 17," Devlin told MyFoxHouston.com.
Because the age of consent in Canada is 16, Price is not being charged with physical sexual assault.
However, because she allegedly pursued the relationship in Texas, she has been charged by prosecutors in Houston with two counts of online solicitation of a minor and one count of enticing a child with the intent to commit a felony.
After going to the teen's home in Barrie, Ontario, in February and failing to lure the boy away, Price continued her online relationship with the boy, said Lt. Matthew Gray, with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
"She talked to him about sex and a lot of different stuff. It was a very long, long grooming process. She thought that in February she had him at that time. She continued to work on him until she finally felt she broke through," he said.
On Dec. 29, Price flew back to Canada and managed to lure the teen from his home, taking him to a hotel in Rosseau, about 70 miles away, and having sex with him, Gray said.
"From our investigation, we have thousands of e-mails and instant messages to go through. She was very persistent to say the least," Gray said.
Price was arrested early Tuesday morning at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport after returning from Canada. She made her initial court appearance on Wednesday.
Her attorney, Skip Cornelius, did not immediately return a telephone call Wednesday.
Before leaving his home, the teen left a note for his mother saying he was running away with Price. Authorities in Barrie were looking for the two when an off-duty police officer in Rosseau spotted them at the hotel, Gray said.
Price has worked as a permanent substitute teacher with the Cypress-Fairbanks school district in suburban Houston, and has four children, Gray said. Prosecutors said after her arrest, Price was fired from her job.
Price is being held in the Harris County Jail under bonds totaling $20,000.
If convicted, she faces anywhere from two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each charge, Hawkins said.