Originally created 08/21/96

Man uses Internet to lure teens away from home



SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - A man cryptically calling himself "The Dark One," used the Internet to convince two teen-age girls to meet him at his car last week, and they haven't been seen since, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators say Cash Morriss, 18, of Sparks, Nev., found 13-year-old Summer Nix of Spartanburg and 15-year-old Casey Thompson of Pauline last spring through messages on one of the computer network's bulletin boards, then drove cross-country to meet them Aug. 13.

"I can show you fear in a handful of dust," one note says.

No one has seen Morriss or the two girls since a friend watched them get into his car, authorities said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said this was the first time it heard of a South Carolina child being lured away through the Internet.

National President Ernie Allen said there have been as many as 30 similar cases nationwide in the past two years. "There have not been thousands of these type of situations, but the number is definitely rising," he said.

"Parents need to know what their children are spending all their time doing on the Internet," said Margaret Frierson, spokeswoman for the center's Columbia office. "People, especially children, let their defenses down when they're surfing the 'net, but you have to use your common sense. You don't go somewhere with people you don't know."

The girls apparently went with Morriss voluntarily, said Spartanburg County sheriff's spokeswoman Heidi Owen.

A friend saw Summer get into the car, Ms. Owen said. Because of that, authorities are treating it as a missing persons case and not an abduction, she said. She refused to discuss whether investigators think there is a satanic connection.

Summer gave the girl a note that her grandmother, Pauline McFall, says read: "Dear Mom. Hey, I'm sorry. This is not because of you. I love you, and I will be back. Love. Summer."

Connie Nix says her daughter is in over her head. Nix has read the Internet messages with their themes of demons and vampires and references from two men who call themselves "The Dark One" and "The Goblin King."

"I don't think she knew what she was getting into," Nix said.

The girls used Casey's computer to access the Internet. Her grandmother, Gayle McCraw, now checks it regularly for e-mail messages that might provide some clues, but she doesn't put much stock in any connection to Morriss' satanic-themed writings.

"The deputies told me most of that stuff they wrote came straight from that rock and roll," she said. "I think they were just fooling around."

McCraw said she fears the trio may have headed to Washington state or the Canadian city of Vancouver, where Casey has friends.

Deputies have posted information about the girls, Morriss and his burgundy or brown 1980s Buick across the country.

Investigators in Sparks, an industrial and shipping hub of about 53,000 residents outside Reno, say they are on the lookout. They have spoken with Morriss' relatives, but the family doesn't know where he is, police Lt. David Saville said.

McCraw and Nix only want the girls to call home.

"Not knowing is the hardest," Nix said. "I just want to tell her, `Please come home. You're not in any trouble. I just want to hear from you."'