TACOMA, Washington -- A Pasco County man faces federal charges in Washington state, accused of traveling across the country to see a 14 year old girl he was plotting to kidnap.
Federal prosecutors in Tacoma, Washington say 39 year old Samuel Leonard was arrested July 2 in Kalama, Washington, after traveling from New Port Richey to meet a 14-year-old. He'd spent months grooming the girl on social media, telling her he was 20, and persuading her to send explicit photos. That arrest led to federal charges being filed Monday (Sept.14). The U.S. Attorney's Office in Tacoma says he also got the child to send explicit photos, and installed tracking software on her phone without her knowledge.
Her family found out and by the time police accessed her phone, prosecutors say Leonard was already in town. They sent a message pretending to be the girl, saying her cellphone had been taken and asking if he could get her another one. They say Leonard threw a phone into her yard. Soon after, police arrested him in nearby Vancouver.
The feds say Leonard had among other things a .45 handgun, survival axe, knives, handcuffs and other items in his hotel room, intended to be used to abduct the girl.
Leonard was brought up for a first appearance on federal charges Monday afternoon in Tacoma. He could face 25 years to life if convicted on all charges.