ASHTABULA, Ohio (WJW) – A 40-year-old New Mexico man remains jailed in Texas and is now facing federal charges after law enforcement officials say he abducted a 12-year-old Ashtabula girl.

Ashtabula County Sheriff William Niemi says Joseph Gunter is charged with a count of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of transportation with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.  

Sheriff Niemi said the man drove from New Mexico to Ashtabula last week and abducted the girl.

The girl’s mother told deputies the girl was homeschooled and went for a walk in the morning on Sept. 21. When the girl didn’t return an hour later, her mother called deputies.

Family members of the girl also started checking with neighbors and the girl’s friends. Her mother soon learned that her daughter had told one of her friend’s that a man she met online threatened to kidnap her.  

Detectives then worked with the FBI and were able to get the license plate number of the suspect’s vehicle. The car was found in Texas Saturday morning. Gunter was arrested. The girl was reunited with her family earlier this week.

The sheriff urges all parents to keep close tabs on who their children may be communicating with on social media.