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St. Petersburg sex offender arrested in connection with runaway, 15

Authorities on Wednesday arrested a St. Petersburg sex offender after a 15-year-old runaway was found in his custody at his mother's home in Colorado.

The girl, who is from Pinellas County, had been reported as a runaway on Sept. 12.

Acting on a tip from the girl's parents, detectives from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office quickly zeroed in on John Smallbone, 21, of 1260 77th Ave. N.

The girl, who has run away before, had made phone calls to a number belonging to Smallbone, electronic records showed.

When deputies visited Smallbone on Sept. 16, he pretended to cooperate, officials said. But at some point, officials said, Smallbone skipped town.

Detectives kept looking for the girl and eventually they pinpointed her to an address in Colorado, the home of Smallbone's mother.

Pinellas authorities got a warrant and arrested Smallbone Wednesday at his mother's home.

Smallbone, who is awaiting extradition to Florida, was charged with interference with child custody and failing to register as a sex offender. Plans are being made to return the girl to her parents, Matthews said.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, Smallbone is considered a sex offender because of lewd and lascivious behavior on a 6-year-old victim. Deputies said Smallbone was 13 and living in his native Colorado at the time of the offense. He moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2008.

He does not appear in the state's sex offender registry because he was a juvenile when he committed the offense that gave him sex offender status.

St. Petersburg sex offender arrested in connection with runaway, 15 11/05/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 11:20am]
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