Parents of teen who died by suicide speak out about online predators | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

AURORA, Mo. — The death of an Aurora teen is renewing the conversation around internet safety. 

In January, Evan Boettler took his own life after extreme pressure from an online predator.   

His parents Brad and Kari Boettler are now sharing his story, hoping it will keep this from happening to another teen. They say this took them by surprise and they miss their son daily.   

“Evan was kind and compassionate,” said Brad Boettler, Evan’s father. “He was loved by his community, loved by his family, loved by friends.” 

Evan Boettler was 16 years old when he took his own life. The initial investigation showed no signs of depression and Evan’s parents said he preferred to be outside instead of on his phone. 

“His real passion, though, was the outdoors,” Brad Boettler said. “His dream was always to be a professional bass fisherman.” 

Throughout the investigation of Evan’s suicide, the Aurora and Marionville Police Chief Wes Coatney said he found a social media conversation between Evan and another account. The account claimed to have an explicit picture of Evan and was asking for $500 or the picture would be shared with his parents. 

“It happens more frequently than what we we would ever have known,” said Brad Boettler. “You know, we we had rules and expectations in place regarding phones and social media. And to be honest, the situation was completely kind of new to both of us.” 

The Boettlers said they want to share Evan’s story to help educate parents and teens about the dangers of online predators.  

“These people search out a certain demographic and he fit that demographic and because of that, he fell victim,” Kari Boettler said. “And we aren’t disappointed in what he did online. We aren’t angry for that, and you know, we wish he would have come to us to help.” 

The Boettlers say they want teens to know there are people who can help them like local law enforcement and the suicide hotline 988.

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National Cyber Security