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Missing Teenager's Parents Blame "Online Tournaments"

| 27 Oct 2008 04:30
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The parents of a missing teenager are convinced that someone he met while playing Call of Duty 4 is responsible for his disappearance, and are calling for a more intensive "online search" for their son.

Brandon Crisp of Barrie, Ontario left home nearly two weeks ago after his parents took away his Xbox 360 following an argument over what his parents called his "addiction" to Call of Duty 4. "He's out there now with someone he met online. They're harboring him or he's being held against his will," Steve Crisp, the boy's father, said, adding that it was more likely the latter.

Local police have conducted an extensive search for the youth, but his father called for a greater focus on the online community Brandon had connected with since he began playing the game. "I really need the help of the police now in really delving in and getting right to this Xbox hard drive," he said. While he didn't find fault with the physical search conducted by Barrie police, he said the Ontario Provincial Police or Royal Canadian Mounted Police had the resources needed to carry out a full online investigation.

The O.P.P.'s cyber-crimes unit is attempting to "crack" Brandon's computer and Xbox Live account to identify members of his gaming clan, and Microsoft has said it will suspend its privacy protocol to assist with the investigation, according to Barrie Police Sergeant Dave Goodbrand. ""Brandon's dad made a plea to Microsoft," Goodbrand said. "This is an exigent circumstance, where it's a kid you're searching for. This isn't the same as other criminal investigations, where you're looking for evidence." As well as cooperating with police, Microsoft has also increased a reward for information leading to the boy's return to $50,000.

"He [Brandon] was getting good enough that there's a possibility he was expanding into other clans," Goodbrand added.

Crisp claimed he didn't blame Xbox 360 manufacturer Microsoft for his son's disappearance, saying instead that "online tournaments" were the real problem. His parents were aware that the game was "taking over his life," Crisp admitted, but it wasn't until after the boy ran away that they learned about teams of gamers who play in online tournaments for money. "I wish I'd known before," his father said, because the strict rules of the team environment "gave him a whole new identity." When he took the Xbox away, he said, "Basically, I took away his identity."

Barrie police and hundreds of volunteers have been searching for the boy, focusing on an area in which he had been spotted the day he left home, the last confirmed sighting of the youth. Anyone with knowledge of Brandon Crisp's whereabouts are asked to call the Barrie Police Department at (705) 725-7025.

Source: CBC, Toronto Star

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