LAKE CITY, Fla. – A soccer coach who ran away with a 17-year-old Columbia County student decided not to fight being returned from New York to Florida to face a charge in the case.
Rian Rodriguez, 27, is charged with interference with child custody, a third-degree felony, but could face additional charges. Florida authorities said they expect he will be returned to Florida Tuesday or Wednesday, but a court official in Onondaga County, New York, said after the hearing that Rodriguez could be held for up to two weeks until he's released on the Columbia County arrest warrant.
Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said at a news conference Monday that the State Attorney's Office is reviewing whether to file additional charges against Rodriguez.
A friend of Caitlyn Frisina said the 17-year-old soccer player was in a relationship with her high school's boys assistant soccer coach, who she took off with a week ago, but she did not want to leave the country with him and didn't know what to do, according to court documents.
Frisina's mother, Scarlet, told News4Jax on Sunday night the family was back home in Fort White. She issued a statement reading:
"(We) are very tired, worn out, in fact, physically and emotionally, and we feel that she's home, she's OK. We're seeking counseling to help us work through things and that prolonging the story isn't what she needs. We are incredibly grateful for all of the coverage and assistance everyone offered during this very trying time. We also hope that our privacy and special family time will be respected as we begin heal(ing). We appreciate your help! Thank you!
Caitlyn and Rodriguez were the center of a nationwide search that ended after 4 p.m. Friday when they were pulled over by a New York State police officer who spotted the red Mercury Sable the pair had driven from Columbia County, Florida.
The Associated Press reported Rodriguez had just started a new job in upstate New York to fund his travels with her when he was spotted and arrested, according to police.
State police investigator Todd Grant told the Syracuse Post-Standard he spotted Rodriguez's car after Rodriguez left an employee orientation at a Salina direct marketing firm. He said Rodriguez had planned to work to earn money to buy fake documents to cross the Canadian border with the girl.
Grant pulled over the car and arrested Rodriguez at gunpoint in a parking lot.
Ryan McManus, owner of Prime Time Marketing, told the Post-Standard that Rodriguez said he was moving from Florida and was living in a hotel. He said the teenage girl sat in the car during the two-hour orientation.
McManus said Rodriguez asked if the girl, who he called his "little cousin," could also have a job at the company.
Hunter said the officer who spotted the car had been part of a task force earlier in the day that was actively checking hotel and business parking lots, but actually spotted the car on his way home from his shift.
Caitlyn was reunited with her parents Saturday in Syracuse. They returned to Florida sometime Sunday.
According to Rodriguez’s arrest report, Scarlet Frisina had been calling her daughter's friends and discovered Caitlyn’s relationship with Rodriguez. One of Caitlyn’s friends told Frisina that her daughter had “hooked up” with Rodriguez and that he worked his way into her life.
Frisina said Friday before her daughter was found that Rodriguez was the only person who didn't answer when she and her husband were calling around trying to find Caitlyn Sunday morning.
The records detail a conversation Caitlyn had with the friend. According to the friend, Caitlyn said the two were planning to leave and she (Caitlyn) didn’t know how to get out of going. Caitlyn told her friend that if she did get out of going, Rodriguez said he would “mess up her life,” according to Rodriguez’s arrest report.
Caitlyn told her friend that she was "scared and didn’t know what to do," police said.
Arrest records show that a school resource officer in Lake City handled a rumor that Caitlyn and Rodriguez were in a relationship in August, just after the school year started. The officer concluded that the rumor was a false accusation.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith spent six years working as a school resource officer and said the student who made the claim, but later said the story wasn't true, may have felt pressure to change their mind.
"Once they know they're going to be interviewed and talked to by several different people, they may have gotten the cold shoulder," Smith said.
Caitlyn’s father, Ward Frisina, told police that after checking his daughter’s bank account, he saw that she had withdrawn $200 from an ATM in St. Marys, Georgia.
Ward Frisina found her cellphone in her bedroom and a factory reset had been performed on it. According to documents, he told police he was able to pull some old Snapchat messages that confirmed her relationship with Rodriquez.
In the messages, Caitlyn makes explicit remarks about Rodriguez’s genitals.
Ward Frisina told police he made several attempts to contact Rodriguez, including leaving messages on his voicemail.
Rodriguez’s arrest report shows that he told his parents that he was leaving to visit a friend who lives near a Catholic church in Lake City, but never returned.
According to his arrest records, Rodriguez took a Discover credit card that belonged to his father and it was used in Hardeeville and St. George, South Carolina.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office asked Rodriguez’s cellphone service provider to ping Rodriguez's phone, but that wasn't successful because Rodriguez kept his cellphone off, police said.
New York State Police Trooper Jack Keller told reporters that Rodriguez might have come to the area because had spent a couple of summer vacations there when he was younger and had some connections there.