Family fears predator used video game messaging app to target child; boy found safe

John Peal III, 14, was last seen Tuesday night.
John Peal III, 14, was last seen Tuesday night.



A Mississippi family desperate to find their missing teenager can breathe easier Sunday.

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John Aubrey Peal III, 14, has been found safe, according to the Olive Branch Police Department. He had been reported missing by his family around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Mississippi family desperate is to find their missing teenager.

John Aubrey Peal III, 14, was reported missing by family from his home in Olive Branch around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Police said Peal was last seen Tuesday around 11:30 p.m. Peal's sister said she told him goodnight, and when the family awoke Wednesday, he was gone.

Peal’s sister went into his room and noticed the window was open.

“First thing running through my mind is somebody convinced him to leave,” Peal said. “I don’t know who,” Peal’s father said.

John Peal II said his son spends his days playing video games in his room. On Tuesday night, he was missing and his family believed something horrible was happening.

“He took $100, cellphone, cellphone charger, backpack and a portable hard drive,” the elder Peal said.

Police told the family he may be out with a friend, but the boy's parents later found out he was using a video-gaming messaging app called "Discord."

“That’s where he’s meeting people,” Peal said. “The first thing that comes to my head is he’s not on his phone for 30 hours. He’s talking to somebody on Discord, and they took his phone away when they got him.”

The Peals started researching the gamer chat app and they were horrified.

“The only thing I do know from everything I’ve heard is that there are a lot of predators on the site,” Peal said. “That’s my biggest concern, the children and my son.”

The younger Peal is a history buff. He starts his first year of high school Monday.

His family is begging for his return and staying hopeful.

“Death is not as hard as this because with death, you know where he is,” Peal said. “I don’t know where he is. I don’t know what’s happening to him. I’m 100 percent helpless.”

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