FBI Eyes Purported Tape of Michigan 'MySpace' Girl's West Bank Boyfriend

The FBI and sheriff's investigators said Monday that they are interested in a television station's tape of a purported interview with a West Bank man who says he paid for a 16-year-old Michigan girl to fly to the Middle East after meeting her on MySpace.com.

Katherine R. Lester disappeared June 5 from her home in Gilford, an unincorporated Tuscola County hamlet in Michigan's rural Thumb region.

A lawyer for the family, Renee Wood, said she planned a news conference in Caro Monday afternoon. She said Lester's mother, Shawn, would attend but not speak.

The girl, who turns 17 on June 21, apparently planned to visit a man whose MySpace account describes him as a 25-year-old from Jericho, authorities have said.

After the FBI helped track her to the airport in Amman, Jordan, U.S authorities persuaded her to board a return flight. She returned home Friday night.

WNEM-TV in Saginaw broadcast a telephone interview with a man who said he actually was 20 and only identified himself as Abdullah.

In the interview Saturday, he said he was a wealthy businessman who met Lester on MySpace seven months ago. He said he wanted to marry her and sent her money for a plane ticket to visit him.

The station said it got the man's MySpace identity from Lester's sister, Mary, who found it on a computer they share. WNEM said it messaged him on MySpace and asked him for his cell phone number for an interview.

The Associated Press also messaged him and called the number, but he declined comment.

"We're aware of the existence of the tape," Tuscola County sheriff's Sgt. Michael Pine said. "We're talking to the FBI. It's part of the investigation."

Neither he nor FBI spokesman Terry Booth would say whether they had requested the tape from the station or whether they believed the man was who he said he was.

"I haven't seen the tape, so I can't comment on the accuracy," Booth said from Detroit.

MySpace.com, owned by News Corp., is a social networking hub with more than 72 million members that lets users post photos, Web logs and journals. Its features and popularity with teenagers have raised concerns with authorities nationwide, and there have been scattered accounts of sexual predators targeting minors they met through the site.

MySpace forbids youngsters 13 and under from joining and provides special protections for those 14 and 15 — only people on their list of friends can view their profiles. Older users also have the option of restricting certain personal data so it can be seen only by people they have identified as friends.

MySpace is owned by News Corp., which is the parent company of FOXNews.com.