By Craig Franklin, Baptist Message special
JONESVILLE, La. (LBM)– When 19-year-old Daniel Bordelon of Jonesville, Louisiana, agreed to travel to Ohio with two men he had met in an internet chat room, he had no idea what was awaiting him.
But his father, Emile Bordelon, a Louisiana Baptist pastor, did, and he launched a rescue mission for his son from what the elder Bordelon described as a “sex-trafficking abduction.”
The rescue, which the elder Bordelon described as miraculous, began on Feb. 8, when a text from Daniel to his mother, Cindy, revealed he was riding in a vehicle to Alexandria along LA 28 bound for the Alexandria International Airport with two men, and that he was scared.
Upon learning of his son’s situation, Bordelon, pastor of Clayton Baptist Church, Clayton, and owner of Emile Bordelon Transport, Jonesville, immediately took to social media to call upon everyone to pray for his son. He also contacted Catahoula Parish Sheriff Toney Edwards who launched law enforcement efforts in the rescue operation.
Hours later, Bordelon believes, a miracle occurred, when the plane bound for Ohio from Alexandria was mysteriously delayed, allowing just enough time to catch up with Daniel and bring him safely home.
Although the drama culminated on Feb. 8, the nearly tragic event was set into motion months earlier when Daniel joined a chat room called “Discord.”
“This is how innocent teenagers can easily be caught up in the human trafficking trap,” Emile said. “Like all parents wanting to allow their children to have a little freedom and privacy, we did so without checking on him. We trusted Daniel would use good judgment and we trusted he would rely on the moral values we had taught him.”
Unfortunately, like many teens today, Daniel felt more comfortable finding friends and confiding in them in these chat rooms than talking with his mom or dad. It’s an all-too-familiar trend today. “‘Discord’ is the chat room that Daniel got into, and he was talking to numerous people,” his dad said. “They tricked him into believing he was living in an abusive environment. He was told he did not have to follow any rules or submit to any disciplinary conduct.
“They told him he shouldn’t have any responsibility and they could offer him a better lifestyle,” said Emile Bordelon.
“These are professional con artists,” he said. “In today’s internet world, teenagers want to be liked and they want as many followers as they can get, and these con artists knew exactly what to say to Daniel to convince him to trust them.”
Bordelon said as time went on, the predators continued to chat with his son, urging him to move to Ohio to live with them, promising a life free from all the rules of his parents.
“After Christmas, they really began to pressure him into moving there with them,” he continued. “Daniel has been raised to be honest and to believe people are also honest, but he is also gullible and believes what folks tell him.”
According to his dad, the Ohio men promised Daniel a house to live in and even sent him a picture as proof. They offered him an allowance and a life where he could play video games all day long with no responsibilities. They even told Daniel he could bring his two pet cats with him. The invitation was so alluring Daniel finally agreed.
“So, these men flew to Alexandria on that Tuesday, purchased return flight tickets for themselves and Daniel, rented a car at the airport, and drove to T-Town (a small gas station named Texaco Town near the intersection of LA 28 and US 84 close to the LaSalle/Catahoula parish line) where Daniel met them,” his dad said. “They even brought along two pet taxis to place his cats in so he would feel comfortable.”
Daniel voluntarily got into the car with the men but as they headed to Alexandria, he became scared and sent a text to his mom.
“He told her he had left his truck at T-Town with the keys locked in it and that’s when we knew something bad was happening,” Emile said. “Cindy notified me, and I quickly went there and found the truck. What I feared the most – a sex-trafficking abduction — was happening.”
After contacting Sheriff Edwards, the sheriff dispatched deputies and detectives to T-Town where they reviewed the video surveillance and obtained a vehicle description and physical description of the men involved. The information was immediately forwarded to other law enforcement agencies.
A short time later, Daniel and the men were discovered in a car rental parking lot at the Alexandria airport and after a combined group of area officers intervened, Emile was able to bring his son safely home.
Because Daniel is 19 years old and voluntarily went with the men, no charges were filed, and no one was arrested.
A HAPPY ENDING
Still, Emile was thankful his son had been rescued.
“I can’t say enough about how wonderful Sheriff Edwards and his department were and all the law officers involved,” he said. “It was due to their fast thinking, great training, and quick response that this story had a happy ending.”
While Emile gave a lot of credit to law enforcement officers, he gave the most praise to Almighty God.
“When we knew what was taking place, I put it out on Facebook and a prayer chain began across denominations,” he said. “Folks began to pray, and God began to work – there is just no other explanation. God answered our prayers and brought our son safely back to us.”
He credits those prayers for causing the plane delay that allowed officers to get to Daniel just in time. “According to statistics, sex trafficking is at its highest percentage during Super Bowl week,” he said. “I know that people reading this will say it will never happen to them, but the truth is it can.
“I realize many parents raise their children to do things properly, know right from wrong, but please, please be aware of your teenagers’ activities, especially online,” he continued.
“There are many signs that we need to be aware of and these chat rooms are the perfect opportunity for these predators to lure our teenagers into believing they can offer them a better lifestyle,” he said. “While not all chat rooms are bad, parents should still take time to check them out.”
After the ordeal, Bordelon took to social media to thank everyone that had taken time to pray during their time of need.
“It is a real blessing to know people have brotherly and sisterly love for each other,” he concluded. “Thank you for your prayers and it is because of your prayers our family can be together again. I pray you never have to experience anything like this.”