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Man Arrested in Florida After He's Found With Teen Who Faked Going Church Camp, Authorities Say

Georgia resident Vincent Joseph Robusto now faces Florida felony charges after being found holed up in Port Charlotte with a missing 15-year-old, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

By Megan Carpentier
Florida Cops Jail Felon Caught With Missing Texas Teen

A Georgia man who had previously been incarcerated in that state on a raft of felony charges faces new ones in Charlotte County, Florida after being caught with a 15-year-old girl who had been reported missing by her parents in Dilley, Texas.

The teen had, according to what her parents told police, boarded a flight several days prior for what they believed to be an "an all-inclusive church retreat in Florida." When her parents then didn't have any contact with her for several days, they contacted their local police.

The teen's cell phone was then located by Dilley Police at a residential property in Port Charlotte, Florida — a 48 mile drive from the Fort Myers airport — and contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff.

When sheriff's officials arrived at the property, they observed a man run to the back of the house and refuse to open the door. A Buick parked in the driveway was identified as belonging to a Georgia resident, who was contacted by the sheriff's deputies. The car's owner was able to persuade the man in the house to come to the door, along with the teen girl.

Charlotte County Sheriffs then detained the man, who they determined was Georgia resident Vincent Joseph Robusto, 38.

Police said that the teen, when they interviewed her, advised them that she had wanted to answer the door, but said that Robusto had physically restrained her and told her to keep quiet. 

She then told police that "remembered getting off a plane in Fort Myers and then walking down a street where she was greeted by Robusto." (The Fort Myers Airport is accessible by the looped Terminal Access Road, surrounded by parking lots and car rental facilities; it is three miles east of Interstate 75 where there are some consumer facilities. Its runways lie to the north of the terminal, while there is a water treatment plant directly to its east and a working quarry to its south. There are no sidewalks outside of the main terminal area.)

She also told police that, after being greeted by Robusto, they went to the residence in Port Charlotte, which is about an hour's drive, where the two ate dinner and he gave her "a vape pen with an unknown substance."

Police have not said how long the two spent together in the house, which was a rental property listed with VRBO, a site that allows property owners to rent their homes to others on a short-term basis. VRBO did not return a request for comment on the case.

Detectives with the sheriff's office's major crime division then took over the case and contacted the church retreat the teen had told her parents she was attending. Officials with the church said she'd never registered for the camp nor attended their church. The teen's friends then reportedly told detectives that the girl had been in contact "with an older man via social media apps."

After obtaining a search warrant for the property, police recovered a loaded semiautomatic handgun. 

Robusto had previously been convicted in Fulton and Gwinnett Counties in Georgia of aggravated battery, aggravated assault, credit card theft, receipt of stolen property and two counts of carrying a concealed weapon. He had been incarcerated in 2002 and released in 2006. His arrest report from Florida says he had been living in Decatur, Georgia and working as a truck driver before his arrest in Florida.

Robusto has been charged with: felony false imprisonment of a person against their will; felony interference with the custody of a minor; two felony counts of possession of a firearm, ammunition or weapon by a convicted felon; and felony delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor. His bond was set at $325,000.

Florida state officials reunited the teen with her parents in Texas in cooperation with local authorities.

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