- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

LONDON — The 12-year-old girl who ran away with a former U.S. Marine she met on the Internet was reunited with her parents yesterday, police said shortly after announcing that the Marine had been arrested in Germany.

Shevaun Pennington already was on her way back to Britain when Toby Studabaker, 31, was arrested in downtown Frankfurt, police said.

Police said the girl flew back to Britain from Stuttgart via Amsterdam. Officers from Greater Manchester Police met her at the airport around 2:30 p.m., an hour after Mr. Studabaker had been arrested.

She was then taken to a police station in Leigh, near her home, for a reunion with her parents, Stephen and Joanna Pennington.

Shevaun left Britain with Mr. Studabaker on Saturday, police said.

Mr. Studabaker “was arrested for abduction under the power of an international arrest warrant,” police Superintendent Peter Mason told reporters.

Police sources said child pornography images were discovered on Mr. Studabaker’s computer during investigations into the missing pair. The sources also said they had evidence, again taken from Mr. Studabaker’s computer, that the ex-Marine knew that Shevaun was 12, not 18 or 19, as he had told relatives.

The pair had last been traced to Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, where they arrived Saturday.

Shevaun made two phone calls home to her parents in Lowton, northwest England, on Tuesday and earlier yesterday, saying she was well and not being kept against her will. In the second, she told her parents she was preparing to return to Britain.

Mr. Mason said Shevaun believed she was in a relationship with Mr. Studabaker.

“It is a relationship that has developed over a number of months, starting off on Internet chat lines and progressing through to e-mails and personal letters.”

Mr. Studabaker, of Constantine, Mich., joined the Marines in 2000 and served in an antiterrorism unit in Afghanistan, said Sgt. Spencer Harris, a spokesman for Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was discharged on June 30.


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