Missing teen found hidden under trap door of bedroom floor in Kentucky man's house: police

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Friday, December 29, 2023
Missing NC teen found hidden in Kentucky man's house
The man allegedly told deputies he drove to North Carolina from Kentucky and picked the teen up in early December.

NORTH CAROLINA -- A missing North Carolina teenager was found in Kentucky on Christmas Day after the 16-year-old girl was being kept hidden under a trap door inside a man's home.

*Warning: Some information in the story contains graphic details*

According to documents obtained by our sister station WTVD, deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) went to the house after the mother of the suspect, identified as Zackary Jones, called and reported an altercation between him and his girlfriend. Jones told responding officers there wasn't a girl at his house and then allowed them to do a walk-through of the home.

During the walkthrough, officers said they saw drug paraphernalia and Jones tried to throw it into a wood stove that was in a bedroom. They restrained and removed him from the house, the documents say.

They went back inside to continue their search for the teenager and found her inside a cutout door of the floor in the bedroom that was covered by a rug. Deputies checked the girl's information on the computer and learned she was listed as missing out of Fayetteville, North Carolina, on December 6.

The teenager told deputies Jones had engaged in sexual acts with her and strangled her while assaulting her. She also accused Jones of using crack and smoking marijuana with her. Police noted the girl seemed "high" when they talked to her and she was taken to the hospital for treatment.

After being read his Miranda rights, Jones admitted that had been communicating with the girl online before driving to Fayetteville to pick her up from her grandmother's house. He said he told the girl he was 19 but she noticed he looked older when he arrived to pick her up. He said he told her he was actually 25.

After arriving in Kentucky, the girl said she learned from family members he was 34. She said Jones threatened her with a gun and told her to tell everyone she was 18. She said Jones threatened to shoot and kill her several times, adding that he also allegedly threatened to kill a Lincoln County sheriff's deputy after he stopped Jones for a traffic violation.

The sheriff's office said Jones also admitted to having sex with the teen numerous times and having her perform sex acts on him. Jones denied choking the teenager but officers said she had visible marks on her neck.

Jones said he used a computer to lure the teenager and made contact two to three weeks before driving to Fayetteville to pick her up.

Zackary Jones

Jones is facing numerous charges including assault, strangulation, rape and unlawful transaction with a minor.

According to the FBI Charlotte, between 2022 and 2023, the agency saw a 20 percent increase in reports of sextortion.