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Teen who met man over Snapchat sexually assaulted; Police search for suspect

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) -  Police are searching for a man who they believe sexually assaulted a teen outside a hotel in Maryland Heights. The two met over the popular mobile app, Snapchat.

Maryland Heights Police Detective Kendra House said the teen and the man agreed to make a transaction. The alleged victim, a 19-year-old female, agreed to meet the man outside her hotel on Craigshire Road late Monday morning, April 24.

“They met on a parking lot. And then he directed her to an area that was more secluded. And so, she went down to that area. And when she did, he sexually assaulted her,” said Detective Kendra House House.

There were no witnesses to the alleged incident but a nearby business’ security camera captured images of the alleged suspect’s vehicle. The vehicle appears to be a four-door, dark-colored 2008 or 2009 Chevy Malibu. The alleged victim is from out of state, police said. The suspect is believed to be local, and detectives fear this incident might not have been his first.

“Anyone who meets a stranger, and sexually assaults them, is dangerous,” said Detective Kendra House House.

Maryland Heights Police are warning the public about the potential dangers of meeting strangers through social media. In the past week alone, the department took three reports of sexual assaults that involved an encounter through Snapchat. Snapchat itself is not dangerous, House said. But it can enable predators to find victims.

“With the way that people talk now, they don’t speak in person. They don’t talk on the telephone. They use social media,” Detective House said. “They’re not meeting in person initially. Or meeting somewhere out in public, where there are people around. And unfortunately bad things happen.”

Anyone who recognizes the vehicle should contact Maryland Heights Police at (314) 298-8700.