To people who understand technology, it’s common knowledge that practically every modern device is connected to the internet in some way. With that in mind, a Nintendo Switch was used to locate and recover a missing 15-year-old girl in August 2022, as recently reported by ABC15 (via VGC).
An unnamed 15-year-old girl vanished from her Virginia home on August 3, 2022. Unbeknownst to her family, she had boarded a bus with then-28-year-old Ethan Roberts, whom she had befriended on the internet, en route to his home in Tolleson, Arizona. Roberts then forced her into child pornography.
Teams searched Virginia for the girl to no avail. However, Roberts had allowed the girl to bring her Nintendo Switch with her, and she reportedly used the Switch to watch YouTube and download a game. One of her friends on her Switch friend list then noticed that her Switch account had logged recent activity. That friend subsequently alerted the authorities, and the FBI investigated it and tracked the connection. Eleven days after the girl’s disappearance, the FBI and Tolleson police apprehended Roberts at his home and recovered the girl.
Ethan Roberts was charged with, among other things, child pornography and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and following a plea deal, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison in April 2023. Meanwhile, the girl was reunited with her family. So, this is a pretty awful story, but thanks to the FBI listening to an observant friend playing Nintendo Switch and following its online connection, at least a predator is in prison and a missing teenage girl was rescued from a despicable situation.
Still, Nintendo probably won’t be boasting about this in the next Nintendo Switch Online update.