San Tan Valley family brings troubling Instagram messages to police

Posted at 9:49 PM, Apr 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 01:13:32-04

A Pinal County family is sharing their scary social media story, in hopes of helping other families and children. 

Natalie Rule, 12, accepted a follow request on Instagram but quickly started to feel uncomfortable. 

"I felt kind of scared and kind of confused," she said of the messages she was receiving, from a guy she thought was a friend of a friend. 

"He sent a message and said he had a question and I thought it was going to be about my friends," she said. 

The messages quickly grew more personal. That's when Natalie's parents got involved. 

Her father, David, said, "he started asking questions to her like, 'do you hold hands with your friends? Would you kiss your friend when he's having a bad day?'" 

Her parents have access to her social media accounts through iCloud and were upset at what they saw.

At one point, the guy asked Natalie to take photos of herself from different angles, wearing spandex, and eventually wanted to meet in person at a nearby park.

"I'm thinking this is an older guy, stereotypical, a sexual predator targeting a small girl," David explained. 

The family filed a report with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, and a quick investigation led deputies to a 15-year-old boy. 

"We were really surprised that it was a teenager," David said. 

Deputies believe the boy sent similar messages to many other girls. 

Though he did not break the law, he, too, is cooperating with the investigation. 

The Rule family said the experience was a serious lesson learned and one worth sharing. 

"Luckily, it wasn't an older male or predator, but it could have been."