Originally created 12/28/96

Teen-ager may have run off with Air Force man after Internet meeting



OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - A missing 14-year-old girl from New York state may have run off with an AWOL airman she met on the Internet.

Ceara O'Connell of Brighton, N.Y., and 22-year-old Senior Airman Brooker Maltais vanished more than a week ago after exchanging "boyfriend-girlfriend"-type computer messages, said Maureen Chisholm, a sheriff's captain in Monroe County, N.Y.

In a recent message, Maltais wrote: "I couldn't guarantee how much time we could spend together. But at least it would be TOGETHER."

"We feel it's reasonable that the two of them are together," Chisholm said.

O'Connell last was seen Dec. 19, when her mother dropped her off at a mall near their home outside Rochester. Chisholm said the girl had told her mother she was going to meet friends and finish Christmas shopping.

Ceara's aunt, Laura O'Connell, said the teen-ager is an honor student whose mother had recently restricted her use of the computer because she was spending too much time online.

"This is a girl who's never even dated before," the aunt said. "She's a very intellectual, very innocent girl. That's what's amazing."

Maltais, who works in aircraft maintenance, went on vacation Dec. 19 and did not return as expected the following Monday.

"In the two years he's been here, he's not been in any sort of trouble," said Senior Airman Michelle Orosco, an Offutt spokeswoman.