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01/25/2016

Virginia man arrested for solicitation of Winfield girl

Virginia man arrested for solicitation of Winfield girl

       Child’s mother played critical role in arrest

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Article contributed by The Journal Record

 

By TRACY ESTES
News Editor

Winfield - Authorities in Virginia have arrested a man in connection with solicitation of a minor for sexual acts with the Winfield Police Department involved in the case from the earliest stages.


Only saying the intended victim is a pre-teen female in Winfield, authorities worked with the young girl’s mother on the case after she alerted local law enforcement of the turn of events.


Jeremy Dwayne Creech, 35, of Clintwood, Va., is being held on a $10,000 bond at the Dickenson County Jail.


Creech has been charged with the transmission of obscene material to a child and child solicitation by computer in Alabama. Charges faced in Virginia include proposal of a sexual act with a child, two counts of exposing genitalia to a child, two counts of using an electronic device attempting to commit a sexual act with a minor and fondling genitalia to expose electronically to a minor.


Creech is not known to have any prior convictions on his record other than fishing without the proper license in Virginia. But local authorities confirmed Creech is married.


“This is just a reminder to us all that electronics can open the door to our homes to almost anyone,’’ Winfield Police Chief Bobby Blaylock said during an interview on Thursday, Jan. 21.


“This man lives almost eight hours from here, but was able to enter a local home by using his cell phone. But we are fortunate the man never had actual contact with the girl he was targeting.’’


Blaylock was joined in the interview by drug investigator Rusty Hulsey, who noted the child’s mother proved to be the recipient of the text messages.


According to Hulsey, the alleged assailant contacted the local household by text using a telephone number he had seen  on Facebook.


Thinking the cell number belonged to an underaged girl, Creech sent his initial message. But what began as common texts, rapidly degraded into a series of sexual messages and nude photos of himself.


Contact via text messaging began on Wednesday, Jan. 13, just before 9 a.m. as Creech was attempting to determine the age of the person on the other end of the line.


Initially, the mother answered the texts with honest answers thinking someone had reached her phone by mistake. But the more detailed the text messages became, the mother grew more suspicious. She managed to continue messaging with the Virginia man until turning over her cell phone to officials at the Winfield Police Department.


From this point forward, Hulsey, Blaylock and police investigator Brett Burleson were charged with responding to the text messages.


Blaylock said “hundreds’’ of texts were exchanged over the course of the next two days leading to Creech’s arrest in Virginia.


Local authorities managed to take screen shots of each of the text messages exchanged in order to maintain a record of what Creech was saying to what he believed was a young girl in Alabama.


Over the course of the text conversation, Creech even suggested two locations in Winfield where the parties could meet.


Hulsey said there was no reason to believe Creech had ever been to Marion County, but had apparently performed enough homework on the area to make such a suggestion.


Winfield officials contacted the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC) located in Nashville, Tenn., for assistance in the case.


Within minutes and using the Virginia man’s cell phone number, his location had been determined in his hometown. Dickenson County Sheriff’s Department deputies traveled to the site, but had information the suspect had moved.


Deputies in Virginia had knowledge Creech was living in the area. Obtaining a search warrant for his home later in the day, Creech was arrested on Friday, Jan. 15.


While authorities there were in the process of locating the suspect and obtaining a search warrant, Winfield officers were continuing to maintain contact with Creech by text, posing as the young girl.


Creech arrived at his home shortly before 2 p.m. on Friday before being arrested at 2:14 p.m. by Virginia deputies.


Blaylock and Hulsey said Creech is not expected to be extradited to Alabama to face charges in the case as Virginia sentencing in such cases is historically harsher than Alabama.


The Marion County District Attorney’s Office is working closely in the case with the Winfield Police Department, according to Blaylock.


“Cases like this are not very common for our department to work, but I am fearful that this type activity is more common than any of us would like to believe,’’ Blaylock said.


“Fortunately in this case, this man thought he had a cell number for a young girl, but it was the number for her mother. But so many kids have cell phones now that we must try to monitor their use. Don’t just give your son or daughter their own cell phone; never stop to check it from time to time. We must be aware that our kids can find themselves caught up in something like this without even being aware.’’


(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless the defendant is proven guilty.)

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