Jarred Ashley Workman, 27, of Albemarle, N.C., turned himself in to Iredell County sheriff's deputies here Monday afternoon and was charged with 11 counts of statutory rape and five counts of statutory sex offense, all felonies, and is in jail on more than a $1 million bond.
His first court appearance was Tuesday, and if convicted Workman could face life in prison without parole, according to WSOC-TV, Charlotte.
The suspect met the 14-year-old girl online, investigators said. They chatted using social media for about a month and then agreed to meet in the woods near the teen's home in the Love Valley, N.C., area, about 60 miles north of Charlotte and 100 miles east of Asheville. He then sneaked into the girl's bedroom without her family's knowledge.
"During the day, he was either in her closet or in her bedroom, and when she would come home from school or on the weekend or whatever, he would come out in evenings," said Lt. Bill Hamby, a detective with the Iredell County Sheriff's Office here. The family is not being identified because of the nature of the charges.
In the five-day span from April 27 to May 2, Hamby said the suspect had sex with the teen several times. In North Carolina, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16, as it is in 33 other states and the District of Columbia.
After the suspect fled, investigators tracked the him through the woods behind the teen's house. His trail ran cold along North Carolina 115, where he might have gotten a ride.
But the suspect dropped his wallet and cell phone along the way. It's how deputies identified Workman. Plus, investigators say the teen told them his name.
Workman is a 2007 graduate of Parkwood High School in Monroe, N.C., about 30 miles southeast of Charlotte near the South Carolina border and has had several prior arrests.
He is due June 2 in District Court in Albemarle in Stanly County, just east of Charlotte, on three felony charges: identity theft, unlawfully obtaining a credit card and obtaining property under false pretenses. And he is scheduled to appear June 30 in Superior Court in Stanly County on felony charges of fleeing and eluding arrest as well as probation violation.
Part of the Iredell County investigation includes Workman's social-media history.
"For these predators to prey on these children, it's real frustrating," Hamby said.
It's why Hamby and Barbara O'Brien of Statesville say parents need to monitor their children's social-media accounts and activities.
"People are really afraid to do that with their kids," O'Brien said, "But this is an example of why people need to."