He had romanced her online for ages, and she had finally agreed to leave her family behind and come be with him.
The disturbing problem: he was 48 years old and she was just 14.
Vernon Quillin of Chickasha, Oklahoma was arrested after a teenage girl's father discovered the romantic messages Quillin had allegedly been sending his daughter, KFOR-TV reported on Thursday.
According to investigators, the amount of correspondence was massive: more than 1500 Facebook messages and 300 emails between Quillin and the girl.
Vernon Quillin. (Image source: screengrab via KFOR-TV)
“Many of the messages I read were what a reasonable person would believe to be ‘grooming,’" one investigator said. "In that I mean that Mr. Quillin is grooming a 14-year-old to eventually have sex with him.”
Quillin reportedly claimed that he that thought the girl was 17, but one of his alleged messages told a different story.
“I didn’t know how mature you was in spite of your age baby," Quillin allegedly wrote. "[Y]ou don’t act like you are just 14, your love is that of a mature young woman not playing kids games of lyes and breaking my heart.”
He allegedly signed off each message with, “Vernon loves [juvenile’s name], always and forever.”
Police said the girl told them she had packed her bags and was prepared to run away from home to be with Quillin.
“Teenagers often lack the ability to discern what’s in their own best interest, what’s safe and what’s not,” said Shannon McClain of the Chickasha Police Department. “They use that ploy to garner their trust and make them understand that they know them better than anyone, their friends, and their parents. This is their soul mate.”
Quillin has been charged with one count of lewd and indecent proposals to a minor, and police are investigating whether Quillin and the girl may have had further inappropriate contact.
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter