Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe decided Friday to charge an Alabama man with kidnapping and raping a teen girl as authorities continue to mull possible federal charges.
Morgan Jones, 27, is to appear Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court on allegations he picked up the 14-year-old girl from her hometown of Boise and drove her to the Tri-Cities.
The girl was reported as a missing runaway May 28, and was found five days later with Jones at a remote campground in eastern Franklin County.
A tip led sheriff's deputies Monday morning to Palouse Falls State Park, where the pair were caught having sex in a tent, according to court documents.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Lowe said Friday in a news release he had charged Jones with second-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation and two counts of third-degree rape of a child, all felonies.
That decision came after he'd discussed the case with prosecutors in Benton County and Ada County, Idaho, and the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Spokane and Boise.
Lowe said earlier this week that prosecutors wanted to see who has the best criminal case against Jones before proceeding.
Benton County is believed to be involved because Jones and the girl stayed at a west Kennewick hotel the night of May 28, before moving to the campsite about 70 miles northeast of Pasco.
"It is expected that the federal government may take over the prosecution of the case due to the enhanced penalties available to the federal government," Lowe said.
Possible federal charges include taking a minor across state lines for sexual purposes.
In the meantime, Jones will remain held in the Franklin County jail on $50,000 bail. He has been ordered to have no contact with the girl while the case is pending.
Jones was arrested on a first-degree kidnapping warrant out of Ada County. He agreed to return to Boise to face the charge, but then Lowe asked a judge a day later to hold Jones once investigative reports came in from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
Both the girl and Jones admitted in separate interviews with investigators to having sex on several occasions between May 29 and June 2, Undersheriff Kevin Carle wrote in a court document.
Jones and the girl met through the online game World of Warcraft.
Jones reportedly drove from his home in Birmingham, Ala., to pick her up.
The girl, who turned 14 two months ago, has returned home with her mother.