Former coach could face felony charges in missing teen case

It’s been five days since 17-year-old Caitlyn Frisina has had contact with her family.


A missing child-alert was issued Sunday and police believe she is with 27-year-old Rian Rodriguez, the boy’s soccer coach at her school. Rodriguez has since been terminated from that role.

Wednesday, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office released photos from surveillance video taken Sunday that they believe show Rodriguez and Frisina together at a gas station in South Carolina.

Police believe the two are headed north. Between the two, police believe they have family in Canada, Pennsylvania and New York. New Jersey has also been listed as a possible area of interest. 

So far, Criminal charges have not been filed against Rodriguez, but he could face felony charges under Florida Law. 

There’s a law in Florida known as 'Interfering with Child custody' and both police and Attorney Jay Howell say Rodriguez could face this charge since he’s keeping a minor away from where she should be, which is here in Florida. 

As family, local, state and federal agencies continue to look for 17-year-old Caitlyn Frisina, Columbia County Sheriff’s office says charges have not been filed, but the longer the two are on the run, the more likely Rian Rodriguez will be charged with a felony.


“It’s morally and legally wrong and that’s why that child is in danger," co-founder National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Jay Howell said. 


Most probably would not think at 17 you’re a child, but under Florida law, Attorney Jay Howell says you are. Even though the police report indicates Caitlyn sent a message to a friend indicating there may be a relationship between her and 27-year-old Rian Rodriguez, anyone that keeps a child away from their parents is in violation of the law. 

“It says simply that it is a third-degree felony for anyone to interfere with the custody of a parent, guardian, state agency whoever is the lawful custodians of that child.”

Rodriguez could face up to five years in prison if charged and convicted.

Howell, the co-founder of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says the best thing friends and family can do is continue to be vocal.


“Now you have to use it as a searching technique because we’re all tapped into it.”

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies helping in the search still believe the two are headed northeast in a Red Mercury Sable with Florida Tag: Z04CSC. 

Since Caitlyn is classified as a missing child, Columbia County says agencies in other states are on a higher alert for Frisina and Rodriguez. So far, the two are believed to be together in surveillance video from a gas station in South Carolina and Rodriguez at a pawn shop in North Carolina. 


Columbia County Sheriff’s office says right now their focus is not on possible charges but getting Caitlyn back home.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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