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July 31, 2014

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Facebook leads police to kidnap suspect in Northern Nevada

Updated Thursday, May 8, 2014 | 8:36 a.m.

SPARKS — Police say they used social media to track a suspected kidnapper from the San Francisco Bay Area to a hotel-casino in northern Nevada where he was arrested on kidnapping, assault and pornography charges.

Nicholas Wessel, 37, of Richmond, California allegedly persuaded two run-aways from Modesto to travel to Nevada with him before he was arrested at the Nugget in Sparks about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sparks police said.

He's accused of having non-consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl that Modesto police had located using a Facebook posting on the Internet.

"We actually had contacted the social media site and asked for an emergency look up as to where they were connecting from," Modesto Police Sgt. Ivan Valencia told KRNV-TV.

"It gave us an IP address and belonged to the Nugget in Sparks," he said.

After the arrest, police found a camera in Wessel's hotel room containing "several illegal images of children," Sparks Police Sgt. Charles Alt said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Some of the images were of our 14-year-old victim, but the others are unknown to us at this time," he said.

The two teens were taken into custody and were being held at a juvenile justice center in Reno.

Wessel was booked into the Washoe County jail on suspicion of two counts of kidnapping, one count of sexual assault, one count of production of child pornography, one count of possession of child pornography.

Police are urging anyone with additional information to contact detectives at 775-353-2241 or Secret Witness at 775-322-4900.

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