WARTBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – A West Tennessee man faces federal charges in the disappearance of a Wartburg teen late last year.
Federal court documents show Richard Edward Gilliland, 45, of Dyer County, Tennessee, faces charges of knowingly transporting a minor in interstate commerce for illegal sexual activity, knowingly using a facility of interstate commerce to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, and knowingly using a facility of interstate commerce to entice a minor to produce child pornography.
The 14-year-old was reported missing by her mother on December 3, 2018. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation eventually joined in the search.
On December 31, police in Dyersburg received a tip that the girl was in a Walmart store. Police arrived and located her. Officers interviewed her and she stated she met Gilliland, a truck driver, on dating app Meet24.
During a video interview on January 2, she said talked with Gilliand for a couple of days until he came to pick her up at the Rite Aid store across the street from her home. They then drove north to Kentucky. She said just outside of Lexington or Franklin, Gilliland began “coming on” to her and they had sexual intercourse.
She said Gilliland parked his car in his trucking company’s parking lot and they then got into his work truck. The two traveled through multiple states where they continued to have sexual intercourse.
The teen said Gilliland left her in his truck at a truck stop in Dyersburg on December 29. She was found a couple of days later.
Officers tracked Gilliland to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he was taken into custody. He confirmed meeting the teen on Meet24 and that they communicated about engaging in sexual contact. He also admitted to being aware of her age when he asked for a naked photo to ensure she wasn’t a police officer.
Gilliland told officers, according to the documents, that just after Christmas he told the teen she had to leave. He said he had sexual contact with her at least eight times in several states. He also admitted to taking a nude photo of the girl with his cell phone which he said he deleted, but law enforcement later found evidence of on his phone.
Conversations between the two on Meet24 showed the teen told Gilliland she was in an untenable living situation with her family.