More than two years after the search for a missing teen led police to a Cocoa hotel room, the man who took off with her is headed to prison on a long list of charges.
The investigation began back in January of 2021 when Cocoa Police officers were sent to the Budget Inn on West King Street at the request of the Palm Bay Police Department in reference to finding a missing teen who had potentially run away from home.
It was believed the then 15-year-old victim was potentially involved in a human trafficking ring.
Shortly after arriving on scene, police found the victim and then 25-year-old Temron McFarlane outside the room and took them both into custody.
Once officers spoke to the victim, they learned there was much more taking place than the harboring of a missing juvenile.
The investigation revealed McFarlane was exploiting the victim for money through an ongoing scheme in which McFarlane and the victim were selling explicit photographs and videos of themselves online.
According to police, McFarlane admitted to knowing the victim was underage at the time. He was ultimately charged with more than 60 felony counts involving child pornography and other sex crimes against a child.
McFarlane, now 27, recently entered a guilty plea to multiple counts each of possession of child pornography, use of a child in a sexual performance, promoting sexual performance by a child, lewd or lascivious molestation, human trafficking, and interference with custody.
According to the police department, a conviction by a jury would have carried a sentence of more than 300 years in prison.
Thanks to the plea agreement, McFarlane’s individual sentences will be served concurrently for a total of 12 years in prison with credit for time served.
Once released, McFarlane will serve another 10 years of probation. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
While police say they don’t believe McFarlane had any other victims of his own, they know there are others out there.
“Unfortunately, this kind of activity is more common than people realize,” Cocoa Police Detective Chris Zuniga said. “There have been cases of children looking for attention through social media and trying to gain the attention from older adults that they shouldn’t be speaking with.”
Det. Zuniga was among the Cocoa Police officers who responded to the Budget Inn back in 2021. He says it’s important for parents and guardians to closely monitor the habits of their teens and children online.