Lindsay was found in Greece and reunited with her mother, and Baehring was taken into custody.
But Sgt. Gary Klinger, head of the missing persons unit for Florida's Polk County sheriff's department, realized he had underestimated the con man.
Martina Crivaro, 24, worked at a cell phone company in Lindsay's hometown and happened to take the call when Baehring set up a prepaid account for Lindsay. Baehring convinced Martina that Lindsay was a victim who had to be rescued from emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
"He eventually gets Martina to agree to pick Lindsay up, take her to the airport and put her on a plane," says Klinger. What she did was illegal, and Crivaro has pleaded guilty to charges of interfering with parental custody and is under house arrest for two years.
Lindsay claimed she was going to stay with her best friend, Dawn Arnder in Ohio. The girls had never met, but Dawn, 18, and her father, Robert, were part of Baehring's plot to get Lindsay to Greece.
Baehring promised the Arnders, whom he'd met online, $2,000 for their help. He was betting that Lindsay could pass for Dawn and use her passport. In Ohio, Arnder helped Lindsay cut her hair and dye it from blonde to dark brown. He gave her a pair of glasses and colored contact lenses belonging to his daughter. Then he put her on a bus to New York and handed her a plane ticket to Greece, paid for by Baehring.
Klinger's investigators, meanwhile, had found emails from Dawn Arnder on Lindsay's computer and called Ohio police. Lindsay was gone when investigators went to Ohio with a search warrant, but police arrested Robert Arnder after they found scores of homemade sex videos at his house, many featuring children. They also found more child pornography, some relating to Lindsay, from Kon Baehring on his computer.
Robert Arnder later would be sent to prison for 85 years for child rape in another case. His daughter, Dawn, it was found, had been a victim of abuse and is now in protective custody.
Having used others to get Lindsay to New York, Baehring used his own powers of persuasion to get her on the plane, giving her instructions by cell phone every step of the way.
Everyone involved in the investigation strongly suspects she wasn't the first. Even as he was led off to prison, Baehring insisted Lindsay was the only girl in the world for him.
48 Hours wanted to see how much of Baehring's story checked out and emailed everyone on Baehring's Internet address book. The list reveals a trail of cyber-seductions - or at least attempted seductions - from eastern Europe, to the Mideast, to tiny Bigalow, Minn.
Three years ago, Kari Voss, then 15, of Bigelow met Baehring in a chat room for teens. Before long, he asked her to Greece. So she blocked him from her list of chat buddies.
It also happened to a young woman in Eastern Europe who began chatting online with the same charming stranger who asked for her picture, wanted to know about her relationships and invited her to Greece.
When she refused, Baehring actually went to visit her and scared her so much that she's afraid to show her face or even to reveal her native country.
Investigators agree Baehring's intentions went way beyond seduction, and one Greek police officer says he believes Baehring belongs to an international child pornography ring.
Baehring defends himself: "I don't believe that I am a monster," he says, insisting his intentions were honorable. He claims he helped abused children and that any suggestion that he traded in child pornography is obscene. He admits he watched it with Lindsay - but only "to show her what is right and what is not right."
Chief investigator Georgious Kokinnis believes Baehring eventually planned to use Lindsay as a prostitute and even force her to appear in pornographic films. Police still are investigating the source of his porn, many of which depict children as young as 4.
Baehring claims to be a member of 68 organizations that fight child pornography, but a 48 Hours check of some of the groups he named turned up not one organization that knew of Baehring.
Update: September 2002
In April Baehring went on trial on charges of pornography and having sex with a minor. Baehring denied having sexual contact with Lindsay.
Lindsay's mother, Stephanie Lavoie, returned to Greece without Lindsay to testify against him. Her daughter was too fragile to testify, she thought. But the court ruled that without Lindsay, there could be no trial. Stephanie was crushed.
The judge decided to put everything off until July, and demanded that Lindsay, now 16, appear in person to tell her own story…
She returned to Greece with her daughter, who was on medication. "This is going to be bad I think, it's going to be an emotional time. It's going to be very hard," Lindsay said. But without her testimony the man who caused her so much pain would go free.
Stephanie has brought Lindsay's therapist, for support and to testify on her behalf.
During the 3-day trial, the court heard from police, who tell of child pornography found on Baehring's computer, from a psychiatrist who says he's the best behaved inmate in jail, from friends and neighbors who talked of the duo's odd relationship. But the most dramatic moment comes when Lindsay took the stand.
The judge cleared the courtroom. Without her mother or her therapist, Lindsay explained in detail how Baering sexually abused her, asking that he go to jail for what he did. But, astonishingly, she then said that in spite of it all, she still loved him.
Stephanie says she's frustrated that Lindsay hasn't gotten over Baehring yet, but blames him for so thoroughly brainwashing her daughter. Ironically, Baehring tried to defend himself by claiming that Stephanie has drugged and brainwashed Lindsay into testifying against him.
Baehring was found guilty, but got a light sentence of only eight years. Stephanie was outraged. But Lindsay thinks it is fair.
Baehring seemed almost pleased afterward. Given parole and time off for good behavior, he could be out of prison in three years.
It will take much longer than that, Stephanie worries, to undo all the damage he did.
But she is optimistic. "We got a long road," she says. "But we're going to do it. She's getting better every day."
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