Advocate for Change: Mother of Runaway Chesterfield Teen Calls for Revision of Virginia Law

A Chesterfield County mother is calling for revisions to a Virginia law following the three-week disappearance of her child in December.

On the night of December 5, 2023, Tabitha Sites, a 15-year-old girl from North Chesterfield, mysteriously disappeared from her home. The authorities from the Chesterfield County Police Department initially classified Tabitha as a runaway after discovering that she had purposely destroyed her laptop and deleted all her social media accounts.

Around 11:50 p.m. on December 25, 2023, Cora Sites, the mother of Tabitha Sites who had been reported missing for three weeks, received her Christmas miracle.

Cora Sites revealed that she received a phone call from Tabitha, which made her concerned and hesitant to end the conversation. Fearing for Tabitha’s safety, Cora immediately contacted the police, who took swift action to locate and bring her back.

According to Cora Sites, her daughter was deceived by a 45-year-old man whom she met online and who later picked her up in a car. They embarked on a journey that spanned over 40 hours and crossed seven different states.

Chesterfield Police were unable to send out an Amber Alert for Tabitha since she was classified as a runaway. As a result, their ability to assist was limited.

According to the individual, there was a constant refrain of “We can’t do it” throughout the ordeal. The person’s emails and Xbox account were both deleted, making it impossible to obtain evidence through a subpoena. This was due to the fact that the evidence of the crime had been erased from the digital accounts.

The current Virginia law, known as the Consumer Protection Data Act, does not specifically address the issue of runaways. Instead, it applies to children who are under the age of 13. In the case of Tabitha Sites, who was 15 at the time of her disappearance, the law did not offer protection for her data.

According to Cora Sites, changing the age criteria in the Consumer Protection Data Act to include children under 18 might have played a role in finding Tabitha earlier.

“When the laws were originally drafted, the internet was not a part of our daily lives. At that time, we didn’t have to worry about online predators who pose as children or make false promises to lure unsuspecting kids. They would even instruct these children to erase all evidence before meeting up with them. Unfortunately, these laws inadvertently shield the predators rather than safeguarding the innocent children and their families,” expressed Cora Sites.

Tabitha Sites’ abductor faces charges of human trafficking and other offenses, as confirmed by Cora Sites. The FBI has now assumed control of the investigation.

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