Wednesday, August 20, 2008

IN - 15 Finds Out: Internet stalking

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08/20/2008

WABASH (WANE) - A Wabash man accused of stalking and harassing women has had two felony charges against him dropped.

Ryan Brown, 23, will be sentenced in September on two misdemeanor charges of harassment. He had also been facing two felony charges of stalking. But at a hearing on Wednesday, the two felony charges were dropped as part of what's called a "charge bargain".

Prosecutors said Brown created profiles on the social networking site, Facebook. According to court documents, he posed as two Wabash women and engaged in online sexual activity with men.

Back in March, Emily Jones, 28, was alerted by her church pastor about a profile built under her name. Soon after, Emily discovered her 16 year old sister, Haley, was also a victim.

"I was completely sick. My stomach got tight, I had trouble breathing," Jones said about seeing the site for the first time.

According to the family, the online identity theft went overlooked for 2 years.

The family told NewsChannel 15, Brown was a worker at their church.

"He got pictures of me from our school roster, my cheerleading picture. He got pictures from the church directory," said Haley.

Brown was charged with two counts of harassment and stalking. The victims said that's not enough. They are working with local and state officials to update current laws involving Internet activity. State Representative Bill Ruppel is one lawmaker working on this problem.

"Our laws were written before the Internet was in and even the laws we made during the 90's and early 2000's have not kept up with what's happening in the electronic world," said Ruppel. "Stalking, harassment, ID theft, child and sexual predator laws all need to be changed to adopt this," he continued.

Emily and Haley told NewsChannel 15, they are working to help prevent other people from going through the pain they've experienced.

"It's just humiliating beyond words, you just feel helpless and completely humiliated," said Jones.

"I just feel very violated. Every time I go somewhere, I wonder, ‘what has he read about me on the Internet? What has he seen? Why is he looking at me like that?'," added Haley.

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AL - Ex-cop arrested in Washington state

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08/20/2008

Whitworth faces charges of child rape, sodomy

A former police officer who faces charges of raping a child in Shelby County was captured Monday in Washington state.

U.S. Marshals arrested Ronald L. Whitworth Jr., 35, in an apartment outside Tacoma, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (PI) reports.

Shelby County sheriff deputies arrested Whitworth in April on charges of child endangerment, sexual abuse of a child under 12, rape and sodomy.

Whitworth spent about a week in jail before being released on bond.

More charges were levied against Whitworth in May after members of the Secret Service searched his home.

Officers with of the Birmingham Electronic Crimes Task Force discovered dozens of movies and pictures containing child porn on a personal computer.

A federal grand jury indicted Whitworth on charges of possessing child pornography and transporting a minor across state lines for sex, but he fled to Los Angeles before agents could arrest him.

His truck was found July 31 at the Birmingham International Airport. Inside were guns and a note that reportedly said, “They won’t ever find me; six days (in jail) was unbearable for me," the PI reports

Marshals said Whitworth was staying with an acquaintance in Lynnwood, Wash., where he had assumed a new identity.

Before his arrest, the Secret Service listed Whitworth as one of their “Most Wanted Fugitives.”


CT - Woman to stand trial in false claim of rape

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Good, false accusations should be held accountable.  If the accused were not a cop, this lady would not be where she is now.

08/20/2008

By ADAM BENSON, Journal Register News Service

BRISTOL - A Southington woman who last year was "bullied" by family to accuse a police officer of raping her in his cruiser will stand trial on charges she made false statements.

On Tuesday Judge Joseph W. Doherty backed a prosecutor's claim that the severity of Michelle Ladd's allegations disqualified her from applying for an accelerated rehabilitation program that would wipe the charge off her record if completed successfully.

"The underlying facts in this case are just too serious. Why should this defendant, who made this type of claim, be able to just walk away," said Senior Assistant State's Attorney Ronald Dearstyne.
- Exactly, but, you must do this for all false claims of sexual abuse, not just those against cops.

Ladd, 22, of 33 Darling St., faces misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting an incident, two counts of making a false statement and interfering with police for her July 2007 claims.

On July 17, 2007, Ladd was at a party with friends when she left to allegedly buy crack cocaine.

"She didn't make it back to the party and received a phone call wondering where she was," police spokesman Sgt. Lowell DePalma said at the time. "When she finally arrived at the party with no money and no crack, she said she was scared and told the people she was stopped by police."
- She probably bought the crack and smoked it herself.

According to testimony given in court, Ladd told investigators a Southington patrolman who caught her trying to buy drugs said he wouldn't arrest her if Ladd agreed to have sex with him in his cruiser.

She also said the officer forced her into several sex acts with him.

Ladd repeated her assertion to investigators on July 24, 2007 before recanting it in mid-January.

Matthew Dyer, Ladd's public defender, told Doherty the woman was "bullied" into making the claim by family and friends who wanted her to cover up the group's drug use by insisting she was sexually abused.

"She is terrified of running into the system again," he said. "She's going to choose the pressure of the law over the pressure of her family the next time."

While Ladd's charges fall under the scope of crimes eligible to be addressed through accelerated rehabilitation, Dearstyne said Ladd's claims had a profound financial and social impact on the Southington Police Department.

During the course of the investigation, more than 30 officers fitting a description Ladd gave were interviewed, and officials from the state police's Major Crimes Unit assisted local authorities.

"The claim was made, and to some degree remnants of that claim remain out there, whether it's in the Southington Police Department or the community," Dearstyne said. "These are accusations that stayed within the Southington community for months ... Each and every one of those patrol officers and detectives in Southington were affected."

Dyer pointed to Ladd's lack of criminal record and decision to own up to her false claims as reasons for leniency.

Doherty disagreed. "I think this is a matter that should be tried," he said.

Ladd is slated to appear in court again Oct. 1.

Adam Benson can be reached at abenson@bristolpress.com or by calling (860) 584-0504, ext. 256

© The Herald 2008


FL - Man facing charges commits suicide

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08/19/2008

The search for a registered sex offender on the run ended Sunday.

Eddie Martin Frazier, III, of Pensacola, apparently committed suicide Sunday in a wooded area near his Escambia County home according to Escambia County Sheriff’s Spokesman Glenn Austin.

Frazier’s body was discovered at 11 a.m. Sunday off West Hope Drive, which is not far from his Shamrock Drive home.

According to Austin, a K-9 unit found Frazier near a blue tarp about 200 yards into the woods with an adjustable nylon zip cord pulled tightly around his neck.

The first district medical examiner’s office is expected to do an autopsy to determine Frazier’s cause of death.

Attorney General Bill McCollum Friday announced that his CyberCrime Unit has initiated a search for Frazier after he fled pending his arrest on charges of child pornography possession.

Investigators with the CyberCrime Unit discovered Frazier's possession of child pornography during an undercover investigation. Frazier was last seen in Pensacola and was the first CyberCrime fugitive featured on the Attorney General's Most Wanted website, http://www.myfloridalegal.com/mostwanted.

Frazier was convicted in 1998 on the charge of "lewd fondle or assault, commit or simulate sexual acts on or in the presence of a child under 16 in a lewd, lascivious or indecent manner." He was sentenced to two years in prison and five years probation in that case.

A search warrant was executed Wednesday at Frazier's Pensacola residence with the assistance of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, the Pensacola Police Department and the FBI. Several computers and other items of digital evidence were recovered from his home. Later, CyberCrime investigators and detectives from Pensacola Police Department conducted forensic reviews on two of the computers from Frazier's home and found numerous images of child pornography.

Since Frazier’s death Attorney General McCollum’s office have stop their criminal investigation, but they will still examine his computer to see if possible victims can be identified.

Frazier was expecting to be charged with one count of promoting the sexual performance of a child, a second-degree felony, and 10 counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony. If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 65 years in prison.

The new Northwest Florida office of the CyberCrime Unit, which opened in late July, was very involved in the search for Frazier. The Northwest Florida Office is located within the Santa Rosa Kids House, a nonprofit child advocacy center housing multiple agencies and organizations dedicated to assisting victims of child abuse and their families through the legal and healing process.

This particular office is unique in that it combines the resources of the Attorney General's experts in the investigation and prosecution of online child predators and pornographers with the resources of the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Guardian Ad Litem program, the Santa Rosa County School Board, NAS Whiting Field and the Favor House.


ME - Police: Car explosion was suicide

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08/20/2008

WINSLOW -- An explosion on Monday rocked businesses on China Road, killed a Palermo man and sent flames and automobile parts flying at least 20 feet in the air, witnesses said.

Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said 23-year-old Shane Rexford purchased cigarette lighters at the Cumberland Farms convenience store, drove across the street into the parking lot shared by Pleau's Market and Movie Gallery and ignited a flammable liquid inside his car around 8:15 p.m. Monday.

Rexford died in the fire, which is being treated as a suicide, McCausland said. No one else was hurt.

"I heard this tremendous boom, and it shook the whole building," Movie Gallery Manager Kristen Berard said. The car ignited about 50 feet from the store.

"I ran out, and the trees were all on fire. I was just shaking."

Berard said as she watched, a second explosion launched parts of Rexford's Chevrolet Impala as high as the power lines overhead.

Police and medics arrived on the scene, but Rexford was already dead when they saw him in the driver's seat, according to the Winslow Police call log.

Maine State Police were confident enough about Rexford's identity on Tuesday to inform his mother of what had happened, McCausland said. The medical examiner's office has not yet positively identified Rexford as the deceased.

McCausland said Rexford, of Carrs Corner Road in Palermo, had been a sex offender who, in December 2007, was convicted of possessing sexually explicit material of a minor under 12.

Rexford served five months in the Waldo County Jail and was released in May, a corrections officer said last night from the Belfast jail.

The Impala in the fire was registered in both Rexford's and his mother's names, McCausland said.

Police say the Impala was parked when Rexford lit the flammable fluid. Berard said it appeared that the car was moving while it was in flames, but whether that was from the force of the blast or if the vehicle was still gear, she did not know. From her perspective, she said it appeared that the vehicle slammed into the guard rail at the edge of the parking lot.

The flames and explosion would have been clearly visible from McDonald's across the street.

"My employees told me they could feel the percussion of the blast," McDonald's Manager Derik Boutin said.

Flames scorched trees at the scene about 20 feet up, and charred bits on Monday were still scattered on the asphalt. The metal grill from the Impala and a couple of other charred car parts were also left.

Ken Quirion, of Winslow, was on the Sebasticook River Bridge at a traffic light when he saw youths run across China Road from Cumberland Farms to the fire scene.

A former state fire investigator, Quirion said he drove into the parking lot where the car, parked against the trees with no other vehicles around, was fully engulfed. He said he could not tell if anyone was inside.

"There was so much fire that you couldn't tell anything and I wasn't about to get close because this fire was really going," Quirion said. "The glass was broken out of the whole car, so the fire went extremely quick."

Quirion said he suspected that the Fire Department had just been called about the fire because fire officials arrived about four minutes later -- about the amount of time one would expect for arrival.

"The fire was going awful quick in a very short time and that doesn't happen in an accidental fire," Quirion said.

He said when he heard the news Tuesday that the fire was not accidental, it all made sense.

This was not only the incident in recent memory of an apparent self-immolation, McCausland said.

In Hancock County, a college student doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire earlier this year, McCausland said.

Morning Sentinel reporter George Myers Jr. contributed to this story.

Joel Elliott -- 861-9252 - jelliott@centralmaine.com


PA - Former York City Controller Exposes Police Sex Ring