||Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.
We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
JAN - Week 2
the three Skelton brothers
Missing Morenci boys continue to generate tips, reports of sightings
January 14, 2011
MORENCI, MI (WTOL) - It has been nearly two months since 9-year-old Andrew, 7-year-old Alexander and 5-year-old Tanner Skelton went missing.
The boys were last seen on Thanksgiving with their father John Skelton, who is behind bars on parental kidnapping charges.
Investigators say they still receive tips and reports of possible sightings, but that they have not been able to confirm if any are true.
In addition, police have not received any new information from the boys' father.
Morenci Police Chief Larry Weeks continues to lead the investigation into the boys' disappearance and remembers the exact moment he heard they were missing.
"My initial thought was maybe they were just with a family member or a friend," said Weeks. "But as the things progressed Friday, to the point where we could not locate them, it became apparent something was amiss [and] something more significant happened."
Within hours of the boys' disappearance, hundreds of volunteers and dozens of law enforcement officials searched Morenci.
Chief Weeks says at one point 40 investigators were working the case and that more than 1,000 tips poured in. However, Weeks says tips have diminished.
Now, eight investigators from the Morenci Police Department, Michigan State Police and the FBI work the case and continue to follow leads.
"I expressed that fairly early on in the investigation, with my comments about not expecting a positive outcome. My feelings on that haven't changed," said Weeks. "It's been increasingly frustrating… [because] I feel like we've done everything we can do, up to this point… We haven't seen the results we want to see."
Weeks is regularly asked about the case, but says that bringing the boys home is really the only way to measure progress – and so far he has been unable to locate Andrew, Alexander and Tanner.
Columbus girl recalls alleged kidnapping
by Olivia Laborde
January 17, 2011
A Columbus girl is back home with her family just days after her family reported her missing. A statewide search was called off Sunday, after 13-year-old Fabiola Morales was found in Alabama. Now the man accused of kidnapping her is behind bars. In NBC 38's Olivia LaBorde's exclusive interview the young girl explains her ordeal.
13-year-old Fabiola Morales sat across from her grandmother, uncle and two siblings as she describes her alleged kidnapping. She says, "It was so scary. I can't believe I'm back home.”
She says longtime family friend, 18-year-old Luis Garcia showed up at her 11th Avenue home on Wednesday night and asked her come talk in his car. Fabiola says she got inside, and the next thing she knew Garcia closed the car door and took off with her inside. Fabiola's grandmother speaks only Spanish. But she tells NBC 38 she realized Fabiola was missing on Thursday morning when she went to wake her up for school and she wasn't in her room.
Fabiola's parents, siblings, and extended family all live in her grandmother's house and she says they are very close. Fabiola adds, "When I thought that I might not see them again, it was the worst feeling in the world."
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert Saturday night. Authorities say Fabiola was found in Jasper, Alabama early Sunday morning with Garcia. Garcia was arrested and charged with kidnapping. Fabiola says she's not sure how the police found her, but remembers Garcia telling his cousins on the phone that she was with him.
Luis Garcia is awaiting extradition from Walker County, Alabama to Columbus, to face kidnapping charges. He's scheduled to appear in Columbus for a Recorder's Court hearing on Friday.
President of Florida Corporation Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison for Money Laundering Related to Child Pornography Distribution
WASHINGTON – The president and co-director of a Florida corporation was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for money laundering related to proceeds generated by the corporation through its distribution of child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama. The corporation, Webe Web Corporation, also was sentenced today to five years of probation for child pornography charges.
Marc Evan Greenberg, 45, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Alabama on April 21, 2010, to one count of money laundering. Webe Web pleaded guilty on April 21, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography and 16 counts of transporting child pornography. U.S. District Court Judge C. Lynwood Smith also sentenced Greenberg to three years of supervised release to follow his prison term and ordered Greenberg to pay $900,000 in restitution to six victims.
According to court documents, Webe Web was the registered owner of the website "www.childsupermodels.com," which purported to be a child modeling website that promoted models 7 through 16 years old and their photographers. It contained hyperlinks to websites containing photographs of individual “child super models” featuring minor female children in various poses and wardrobes.
Greenberg and Webe Web admitted that the websites pertaining to 16 different children contained illegal images of child pornography. In some of the photos, the victims, all girls aged 8 to 15, were wearing underwear, lingerie, bathing suits and other revealing outfits, and were posed in positions that constituted child pornography.
According to court documents, viewers of the websites could preview a certain number of images for free on the website homepage. If viewers wanted to join the website to access additional photographs, they could purchase a 30-day membership for approximately $30 per month. Greenberg and Webe Web admitted that the websites depicting the 16 victims generated approximately $1 million in revenue.
Webe Web also admitted that it promoted subscriptions to these individual sites through its free advertising website known as Babble Club. On Babble Club's website, members could receive a free sample of images of the children. According to court documents, the website encouraged the purchase of subscriptions to the individual websites of the children, and hosted discussion boards and groups which were devoted to each individual website. Babble Club members made postings to the discussion boards, which included comments on specific images they liked, the type of clothing and poses they liked, and poetry written to the photographed child. Certain members posted expressions of fondness and devotion for a photographed child.
The vice president and co-director of Webe Web, Jeffrey Robert Libman, pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2010, to 16 counts of transporting child pornography and was sentenced on Dec. 17, 2010, to 108 months in prison.
According to court documents, the photographs of the 16 victims in this case were taken by Jeff Pierson, a former photographer based in the Birmingham, Ala., area. Pierson pleaded guilty in January 2007 to conspiracy to transport child pornography and transportation of child pornography.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jim Phillips and Daniel J. Fortune of the Northern District of Alabama, and Assistant Deputy Chief Alexandra Gelber of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).
This case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Document and Media Exploitation Branch of the National Drug Intelligence Center provided assistance in ascertaining the revenue flow of this criminal enterprise to support analysis of and to identify the ill gotten gains of the defendants.
Man suspected of kidnapping 3-year-old in San Bernardino County arrested in Mexico
January 14, 2011
A man suspected of kidnapping a 3-year-old boy from his home in San Bernardino County and fleeing with him to Mexico has been arrested by Guadalajara authorities, FBI officials said Friday.
Israel Ledesma-Moreno, 29, was taken into custody Thursday after law enforcement officials issued a warrant for his arrest and tracked him to the area where he had been living, said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles.
Ledesma-Moreno, originally from Guadalajara, faces state charges for kidnapping Briant Rodriguez and six counts of home invasion robbery, according to the 2009 complaint filed by the San Bernardino District Attorney's office.
He and an accomplice were later federally charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution when they left California jurisdiction.
Liberato Cardenas-Vega, Moreno's co-defendant, was found slain last year in Sonora, Mexico, where he was shot several times, Eimiller said.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney's office could not immediately disclose a motive.
Briant was kidnapped May 3, 2009, after the two men allegedly ransacked his San Bernardino area home, tied up his family and took him away at gunpoint. Officials believe they also stole some cash and two cellphones from the home.
The boy's kidnapping prompted a nationwide manhunt, and he was found about two weeks later roaming the streets alone in Mexicali, Mexico.
“This capture should serve as a warning to those contemplating escape that the border does not divide enforcement of the law,” Steven Martinez, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said in a statement.
Ledesma-Moreno will remain in custody in Mexico City during extradition hearings. He is an illegal immigrant and has been deported from the U.S. at least once before, Eimiller said.
Indianapolis man pleads guilty to human trafficking
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Nathan G. Pope, 48, of Indianapolis, Ind., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence Monday to conspiracy and transporting an individual across state lines to engage in prostitution, in violation of the Mann Act. Pope and a codefendant, Jan M. Wales, 45, of Indianapolis, were charged with trafficking two women they recruited on the Internet to a Rhode Island hotel to engage in prostitution. Wales pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence in August. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The guilty pleas, which were accepted by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith, were announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Peter F. Neronha; Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston; and Warwick Police Chief Colonel Stephen McCartney.
"Many people are unaware that this form of modern day slavery still occurs in the United States," said Special Agent Foucart. Foucart oversees ICE HSI throughout New England. "While we can't erase the suffering these two women experienced, by aggressively investigating and prosecuting these cases, ICE HSI and our law enforcement partners are sending a powerful warning about the consequences facing those responsible for such heinous acts."
At Pope's change of plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly told the court that in December 2009, Pope drove the women from Indianapolis to a hotel in Warwick, R.I., and checked in with the intent to solicit customers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The next day, Pope left one of the women at the hotel after assaulting her, prompting her to contact Warwick Police. That evening, Pope was located at a hotel in Windsor Locks, Conn., near Bradley Airport, and arrested by ICE HSI special agents on a federal arrest warrant.
Wales, who remained in Indianapolis, scheduled appointments for the women and relayed the information to Pope in Rhode Island via text messages. She was arrested in Arizona in February.
U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, "As unbelievable as it may seem, in the shadows of modern society, there are still those who traffic in the lives of others for profit. This office, together with our federal, state and local partners, stands committed to protecting and seeking justice for the victims of these human trafficking crimes, typically women and children."
Pope is scheduled to be sentenced on April 29, 2011.
Earlier this month, President Obama announced that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. "Human trafficking is a global travesty that takes many forms. Whether forced labor or sexual trafficking, child soldiering or involuntary domestic servitude, these abuses are an affront to our national conscience, and to our values as Americans and human beings," said President Obama. "There is no one type of victim -- men and women, adults and children are all vulnerable. From every corner of our Nation to every part of the globe, we must stand firm in defense of freedom and bear witness for those exploited by modern slavery."
ICE is attacking these types of crimes on several fronts. The agency encourages the public to recognize and report human trafficking crimes through its Hidden in Plain Sight public outreach campaign. The campaign included widespread distribution of posters, billboards and transit shelter signs. ICE is taking a global strategy, working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international partners hosting meetings, coordinating efforts and sharing information to dismantle human trafficking organizations that bring such desperation to the people they ensnare.
ICE's Victims Assistance Program helps to coordinate services in support of human trafficking victims. In April 2009, ICE was recognized for its commitment to assisting victims of crime with a Federal Service Award from the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victims' Service Awards program.
Last summer, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched the Blue Campaign. The Blue Campaign, named for "the thin blue line" of law enforcement, is an outreach effort to bring public awareness to the crime of human trafficking through education and reporting guidelines.
More details on the DHS Blue Campaign can be found in this fact sheet and this website. A fact sheet on ICE's involvement in the Blue Campaign is available by visiting the click here.
Woman accused of unlawful sex with a boy she met playing Xbox online
January 10, 2011
An Orange County, California, woman was in custody Monday for allegedly having sex with a 13-year-old Maryland boy she met playing Xbox Live online, authorities said.
The relationship between Rachel Ann Hicks, 36, and the boy progressed after their initial online encounter in September with phone calls, texts, e-mails and the exchange of sexually explicit photos and movies, police said.
Hicks told the boy she was 23 and flew to Maryland over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Soon after, the boy's family discovered “romantic” text messages on his cellphone, prompting the boy to admit what had happened.
Hicks was arrested Friday at her Lake Forest home. She admitted to detectives that there was another minor who lived in California whom she was involved with. Investigators are trying to identify that boy.
She was being held at the Intake Release Center in Orange County and is expected to be prosecuted in Maryland. Her bail was set at $100,000.
Amber Alert, child safety fair, set for Springfield
January 11, 2011
by The Republican Newsroom
SPRINGFIELD – The Massachusetts State Police and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will host the fourth annual Massachusetts State Police National AMBER Alert Day Child Safety Fair at the Hall of Fame in Springfield on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The event is in observance of the 14th annual National AMBER Alert Awareness Day.
The fair will focus on Amber Alert awareness, abduction prevention education, and the preparation of digital child identification kits.
State troopers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine, along with officers from the Springfield Police Department will be fingerprinting children and preparing digital child identification kits for parents to use in the event that their child goes missing or is abducted.
The fair is free to those attending with a child. Former Boston Celtics guard Dana Barros will visit the fair at 1 p.m., and various children's activities will be held.
For the second consecutive year, troopers and officers will distribute DNA buccal swab kits. DNA buccal swab kits are used to collect and store a sample of a child's skin cells that can be used to confirm identity through DNA comparison. The buccal swab kits being distributed are maintained by the child's parent or guardian for safekeeping, and can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three years.
The State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force will also lead an internet safety presentation for parents and children in attendance.
National AMBER Alert Day honors the memory of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 13, 1996. The AMBER Alert system activates an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases in an attempt to galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
The AMBER Alert program has proven to represent the best hope for the safe recovery of abducted children and to date is responsible for or has assisted in the recovery of 495 children nationwide. In the seven years since the AMBER Alert program's inception in Massachusetts, there have been 15 AMBER Alert activations that have recovered 23 abducted children.
Police search for girls allegedly molested, videotaped by Irvine, CA, man
January 8, 2011
Orange County prosecutors are searching for several girls allegedly molested by an Irvine man in acts recorded on videotape.
Authorities on Thursday arrested Matthew Christopher Tye, 31, on suspicion of multiple felonies related to having sex with two minor girls. Authorities said when Tye's home was searched, videos were found of him having sex with unidentified girls. Tye was arrested Thursday. But police are still trying to uncover the identity of the girls on the video.
Tye is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old between May and July 2009. Prosecutors said he met her online and had sex with her several times in his Irvine home and in his car in Disneyland's parking lot. The girl told a family member, who reported it to police.
While investigating the 17-year-old's claims, prosecutors said they linked Tye to a 14-year-old. He allegedly had unlawful sex with her in that same May-to-July span in 2009.
Read more in the Daily Pilot: "Authorities looking for unidentified girls seen in video."
Parents of murdered teen Chelsea King won't sue state of CA
January 7, 2011
The parents of murdered San Diego County teenager Chelsea King said Friday that they will not sue the state of California over its failure to put the sex offender who later killed their daughter back in prison after he violated his parole for an earlier attack on a young girl.
Brent and Kelly King had filed a claim with the state, often a precursor to a lawsuit. The claim was not approved.
In a news conference, the Kings said a lawsuit would be a long and difficult process and require them to relive the agony of their daughter's murder. Chelsea, 17, an honor student at Poway High School, was abducted in late February while jogging near Lake Hodges.
John Gardner III pleaded guilty to murdering Chelsea King and an Escondido teenager and is serving a life sentence. He had served four years in prison for attacking a 13-year-old girl; although he violated his parole on several occasions he was allowed to remain free, officials said.
The Kings, working with Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-La Jolla), convinced the state Legislature to pass what is called Chelsea's Law calling for tougher sentences and better monitoring of sex criminals who target young victims. The bill was signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Kings said they hope to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown about additional moves to safeguard children from sex criminals.
Los Angeles Officials Identify Video Assault Suspects
by IAN LOVETT
LOS ANGELES — It started with an anonymous package mailed to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, full of some of the most gruesome evidence investigators had ever seen: 100 hours of video footage that showed men sexually assaulting severely disabled women. Some assaults took place at residential care centers.
For months, the videos remained a ghastly mystery for investigators, who could barely make out the suspects' faces on grainy security tapes.
But just one day after the Sheriff's Department released images and composite sketches of four suspects from the videos, officials announced on Friday that they had identified two of the men.
A Los Angeles Police Department detective saw the sketches on Thursday night's news, and recognized one of the suspects as Bert Hicks, 42, who is already in prison for a sexual assault. The police helped identify another suspect from the videos as well, but his name has not been released.
Still, most of the suspects remain unidentified. In the videos, at least eight men can be seen assaulting at least 10 physically and mentally disabled women, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Investigators believe most of the assaults occurred at residential care centers around Los Angeles. At least one suspect was an employee at a center where one of the videos was made, and another appears to be disabled himself.
The Sheriff's Department is working with the Police Department to identify other facilities where abuses occurred.
Because of what the Sheriff's Department called the “extremely disturbing” nature of the videos, they were not released to the public. But detectives described graphic scenes, like one video that showed a paraplegic man sexually assaulting a woman wearing a diaper.
Sgt. Dan Scott said the videos were among the most disturbing things he had seen in 23 years of investigating sex crimes.
“These are horrendous crimes,” Sergeant Scott said. “We hear the stories verbalized to us every day, but to actually have to sit down and see it is shocking.”
The video itself was extremely low-quality, shot mostly on security cameras and, in at least one case, on a hand-held camera, which made it difficult to determine how many attackers were involved.
Sergeant Scott said it took months to digitally enhance the images.
“We had such minimal information,” he said. “It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
The suspect identifications are the first break in the case since the videos were mailed to the Sheriff's Department last March, with a note from an anonymous person who identified himself as a computer technician hired to wipe the hard drive of a computer, according to a Sheriff's Department spokesman. The man said he found the files and, before deleting them, copied them to DVDs, which he sent to the Sheriff's Department.
Despite pleas from the department to make contact again, even anonymously, the source of the DVDs has yet to come forward.
Hailey Dunn 13 Denied Amber Alert in TX
Are public officials doing enough to help locate missing kids?
(CLEVELAND) - Forward by Mitch Carr: If an Amber Alert had been issued for 13-year-old Hailey Darlene Dunn, you'd see it on blinking TxDOT billboards, hear it on the radio, and be able to see and hear more on TV. No alert has been issued, however, because not enough information is available.
Hailey was last seen leaving home and heading for a friend's house on the night of Monday December 27. She never made it to that friend's house, and a week later friends and family held a candlelight prayer vigil for her safe return.
750 people attended.
But still no Amber Alert, and it's because crucial information is still missing. To issue an Amber Alert, the child must be under 17. Hailey's 13 so that checks out.
But law enforcement also have to have information indicating that the child is in immediate physical danger of something like a sexual assault for example. That's not the case here as far as we know.
There's also no proof that Hailey was abducted. She simply hasn't been seen in a week, but that does not mean she's been abducted.
Because there's no proof of abduction, there's no description of a suspect nor any description of a suspect vehicle. Those are two important pieces of information that also must be included if an amber alert is to be issued.
Hailey's mother Billie Jean Dunn and the family just want Hailey back.
"We want her to know she's not in trouble with us or the police. We just need to get her back. We've got to have her back," Billie Jean Dunn said.
CNN Headline News's Nancy Grace decided to pick up the story.
The anonymous reward for information leading to Hailey's safe return is currently at $25,000 and growing.
Sign up for free AMBER Alerts texted to your phone
by Kevin Schuster
The 15th anniversary of National AMBER Alert Awareness Day is Jan. 13. U.S. Cellular encourages cell phone users to sign up to receive free AMBER Alerts via text message. Since its inception, the AMBER Alert program has led to the safe recovery of more than 500 children, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.