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Nebraska Teacher, 13-Year-Old Student, on the Run in Colorado

Thursday , November 01, 2007

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LEXINGTON, Neb. — 

Authorities were looking in several states for a 13-year-old boy and a 25-year-old middle school teacher Thursday, on the run after police began investigating a relationship between the pair.

Kelsey Peterson, a sixth-grade teacher and basketball coach at Lexington Middle School, was placed on administrative leave last week, and police issued a warrant for her arrest on Monday. She is wanted on suspicion of child abuse, child endangerment and kidnappping, authorities said.

Police believed she was traveling with 13-year-old Fernando Rodriguez, and court documents showed authorities had recovered several e-mails and letters between the two from the school and Peterson's father. In them, Rodriguez and Peterson professed their affection for one another.

The Associated Press and FOXNews.com are identifying the 13-year-old even though it is alleged that he is the victim of child abuse because local officials believe it can help investigators locate the boy.

Rodriguez, while living at a home for at-risk boys in Alliance, called Peterson in letters his "Baby Gurl," and said their relationship was "just not about the sex but that it was pretty good," according to court documents.

The warrant charges Peterson with kidnapping, child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Court documents say Peterson's school-issued laptop contained letters where she said she loved the student.

Police said Rodriguez contacted his family over the weekend and said the two were in Grand Island, about 85 miles east of Lexington. Police also said the pair were apparently spotted Friday night at a Denver convenience store, then again Sunday in Ogallala, in western Nebraska near the northeast tip of Colorado.

Rodriguez called his mother and sister early Saturday and sent a text message to his brother, saying he was OK, police said. Police said he also called his aunt to ask whether a visa or passport was necessary to travel to Mexico.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.