Amanda is a troubled pre-teen who lives with her grandmother. When Grandma discovers that Amanda has been sneaking out at night and that grown men have been sending her pornographic photos, Grandma calls the cops. Detectives Kyle and Jay start an investigation that uncovers a sophisticated overseas predator with multiple victims.
Special Guests: Detective Jay and Detective Kyle
Detective Jay has been in law enforcement for 18 years. He began his route into police work at age 19, when he joined the Explorers, or Youth Volunteers, and started going on ride-a-longs with law enforcement in his hometown. In 2004 he became a sworn police officer and for the next 10 years served on Patrol. In 2014, he was promoted to Detective in the Person Crimes department where he now investigates homicides, assaults, and sex crimes in his small town.
Detective Kyle has been a law enforcement officer for 13 years. He is currently a Narcotics Detective and a member of SWAT at his police agency.Read Transcript
Yeardley [00:00:00] Please be warned that while we are sparing in the graphic details, this episode deals with the sexual assault of a minor. Listener discretion is advised.
Kyle [00:00:14] This is why we have these laws. This is why these cases are important. Even if this child was involved in some of the contact, it’s not their fault. And there’s something behind why that’s happening.
Yeardley [00:00:28] When a serious crime is committed in a small town, a handful of detectives are charged with solving the case. I’m Yeardley. And I’m fascinated by these stories. So, I invited my friends, Detectives Dan and Dave, to help me gather the best true crime cases from around the country and have the men and women who investigated them, tell us how it happened.
Dan [00:00:54] I’m Dan.
Dave [00:00:55] And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from Small Town, USA.
Dan [00:00:58] Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He is now a patrol sergeant at his police department.
Dave [00:01:05] Dan investigated violent crimes. He’s now retired. Together, we have more than two decades’ experience and have worked hundreds of cases. We’ve altered names, places, relationships, and certain details in these cases to maintain the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dan [00:01:20] So, we ask you to join us in protecting their true identities, as well as the locations of these crimes out of respect for everyone involved. Thank you.
Yeardley [00:01:39] Hey, Small Town fam. Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan [00:01:47] Good morning.
Yeardley [00:01:48] Good morning, so good to see you.
Dan [00:01:50] Great to be back, again.
Yeardley [00:01:53] Again. Thanks for coming back.
Dan [00:01:55] Yeah.
Yeardley [00:01:56] And we have Detective Dave.
Dave [00:01:58] Happy to be here.
Yeardley [00:02:00] So happy to see you.
Dave [00:02:01] Likewise.
Yeardley [00:02:02] And we are so very pleased to welcome back, one of our favorites who’s been with us several times, Detective Jay.
Jay [00:02:09] Good morning. Thank you for having me again.
Yeardley [00:02:11] Thanks for coming back. And we have a new guest to welcome to the podcast. We have detective Kyle.
Kyle [00:02:18] It’s nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
Yeardley [00:02:19] Thanks for coming. Jay, you always bring us really interesting, all-wrapped-up-in-the-stuff cases. And this one, I’m sure, is no different. So, I’m just going to hand it over to you.
Jay [00:02:32] All right. So, this happened quite a few years ago. We had a report that Detective Kyle took while he was on patrol, and I’m going to kick it over to him.
Kyle [00:02:44] Sure. So, at the time of this case, I was working as a patrol officer. I’m currently a detective, but I was working as a patrol officer in our small town. I first respond to this family’s house for dispute. About a month before this actual case happened, the nature of the dispute was an out-of-control pre-teen a kid that was having difficulty with her grandma that she lived with at the time. It’s typical that we’d go to those types of calls and just try to defuse it and talk to the family and see what’s going on. And I talked to the young lady involved in this, and she explained that she was having some difficulties. She had some struggles with family. She was living with grandma and her parents were not involved in her life at the time.
Yeardley [00:03:22] And what’s her name, the victim?
Kyle [00:03:24] Her name is Amanda. And so talking to Amanda, we discussed some of the ways that she was struggling with the living situation she was in. The other officer I was with talked to grandma separately. He came back and told me, “Hey, grandma mentions that her young granddaughter, this young pre-teen kid, has been viewing some pornography.” And that’s troubling with the age. That’s a warning sign for us. We want to look a little further into that instead of just saying, “Okay, the situation is over. We’re going to leave.” So, we talked to Amanda a little bit about that. She disclosed that she had been having some video and picture contact with adult men, some that she thought were kids online using some social media applications. And she was using those on a tablet and also a phone that she had been sneaking from grandma.
Grandma was aware that she had been using these things and had tried to limit it. But in all fairness, she was a bit overwhelmed with trying to manage Amanda. Grandma said she had been sleeping and had received a ding on her phone, realized that there had been an application loaded onto her phone, this online chat application. And the message that she received was actually a picture of a male’s genitalia. And so, she found out that her young granddaughter had been communicating with men online. In kind of a knee jerk reaction and rightfully so, she was concerned about what she was seeing, so she deleted everything off the phone, deleted the application, the profile, but my understanding was that some of these things still existed on a tablet. The tablet was at a repair shop because it had been broken shortly before this. And so over the next couple of weeks, I worked with them to try to get that tablet to try to retain the evidence in the case.
Yeardley [00:05:10] Are these men– are they asking Amanda for pictures too?
Kyle [00:05:14] Yes, she was exchanging photographs back and forth with these men, sexually explicit photographs.
Yeardley [00:05:20] And she’s just a pre-teen, like, not even a teenager yet?
Kyle [00:05:24] Correct. And according to what she disclosed at the time– now, I didn’t have access to those pictures because the tablet was in a repair shop, and then subsequently found out they couldn’t get a password to it. And so, there was some complications with trying to retain those things. But that was the beginning of that portion of the investigation, and that was my introduction to this family.
With the other officer that was there at the time, what stood out to us is, we need to look deeper at this because this is so to us abnormal, there’s something more going on, this isn’t just a young person who’s curious. There’s warning flags.
Dave [00:05:56] Often in working these cases, we’ve seen where females, I’ve seen as young as seven or eight, where they say, “I’m almost 18.” They know that their age is going to scare people off, they want the attention. And they don’t understand the ramifications of how dangerous social media is. So, they’re potentially not expecting ever to meet up with this guy, but they like the attention from getting messages from someone. And it’s usually someone vulnerable, in a difficult family situation, not getting a ton of attention from their parents, and someone’s adoring them from afar via social media. So, they stretch out their age in hopes that they can continue this relationship knowing that if I say, “I’m 8,” or, “I say I’m 12, it’s going to scare him off. I’m going to tell them I turn 18 next month.” And I’m not victim-blaming here, I want to be clear about that, but it’s just those are facts of these dynamics oftentimes.
Jay [00:06:53] Yeah, that has definitely happened in many cases I’ve been involved with. It seems that everybody who’s young wants to be older, and everybody who’s older wants to be young again.
Yeardley [00:07:02] That’s true.
Jay [00:07:03] So, I’ve seen many cases where people have not told the truth about their age. And it’s a common way for, I guess, both sides to meet somewhere in the middle to make it more acceptable in their own minds.
Dave [00:07:17] Right. And do we have any indication that Amanda was doing that?
Kyle [00:07:20] In this first incident, when I spoke with them, that wasn’t something that she brought up. But that did come up in the subsequent case that we’re going to end up speaking about here, where she did disclose an age that was in our state under the age of consent, but not her true actual age at the time. So, what you said is exactly accurate, that did play out into this larger case.
Dave [00:07:38] Gotcha. Age of consent in our state, in many states is, if you’re under 18, you cannot as a child consent to any sexual contact. Kissing, all the way through all of it. We know that happens, but it protects children from these types of situations where the 25-year-old says she’s 15, but she was never saying no, she was all over me, she can’t consent to that kind of contact. There’s a huge difference in maturity and brain development there, you’re taking advantage of the situation, it protects children.
Kyle [00:08:10] And particularly in this case, with the age of Amanda, at the time, it was a bit shocking to me, it just seemed so, so young for a child to be sexualized and have some of these contacts with men or boys. She gave a range of ages that she’s saying that these people are, but the applications that she’s using on the phone and the tablet are fairly anonymous. They’re designed where people don’t have to provide true information or any contact information, which makes those types of investigations particularly difficult for us to follow up on. People often don’t provide their real information. So, we don’t know at that time, true ages, men, especially that are for all intents purposes, predators posed as being younger, but in fact, they’re older. They’re adults.
And as detective Dave said, let me be clear, this is not Amanda’s fault. This is a 10-year-old child. The mentality, the thought process is completely different. And this is why we have these laws. This is why these cases are important. Even if this child was involved in some of the contact, it’s not their fault. And there’s something behind why that’s happening.
Dan [00:09:13] Yeah. Amanda does not appear to be 18 or in her late teens.
Kyle [00:09:18] Not a chance.
Dan [00:09:18] She looks like a little girl.
Kyle [00:09:20] She does.
Dan [00:09:20] There’s no plausible way that anybody could say, a reasonable person might believe that she’s at least 18.
Kyle [00:09:28] Not a chance. Disgusting.
Jay [00:09:29] Pushing even 15 or 14 would be a huge stretch. Amanda is exactly what she looks like, a child.
Kyle [00:09:38] So moving forward a couple weeks after working with this family to try to get more information from that tablet, I get a report to take a call for service at one of our local hospitals. The details of the call are that Amanda is there with her grandma and are reporting a sexual assault. Grandma was reporting that there had been a sexual contact with Amanda that was obviously inappropriate. So, I go to take the intake report, and I was particularly glad to go to this one because I already knew the family, I already had that interaction had been working with the grandma. And that’s important to us that we have those working relationships, to be able to support the family and making them feel comfortable with such a hard, traumatic event.
So, I went to our local hospital and spoke with Amanda’s grandmother. Earlier in the morning, she had woken up, found that the porch light was turned on, and she didn’t recall doing that when she went to bed, and looked in Amanda’s room and found that she wasn’t there. She felt that maybe she had left the house late at night, in the morning, ran off. And grandma also notices that her phone’s gone.
Yeardley [00:10:41] Grandma’s phone is gone?
Kyle [00:10:42] Grandma’s phone, yes, Amanda doesn’t have access directly to a device at this point because of the ongoing concerns. But that has been something that’s happened where she’s at times snuck grandma’s phone to be able to access some of these different sites.
Yeardley [00:10:57] Got it.
Kyle [00:10:58] Grandma calls police, and police officers that were working late at night ended up finding Amanda walking on a bike path near her residence and brought her back home. There wasn’t anything disclosed the time. It was just thought, “Well, maybe she took off for the night.” And Amanda sleeps for the rest of the morning.
But when she wakes up, grandma starts asking a couple questions about what had happened. And a family friend who is an adult had been over. He’s fairly protective of Amanda and knows some of the family’s struggles. So, he asked some additional questions. And through that line of questioning, he ends up finding out that she had met a man and had sexual intercourse with that man after having left the house. Grandma was wise in going to the hospital to have a sexual assault forensic evaluation done.
Dave [00:11:46] These cases, as a patrol officer, you recognize when it’s a big one. And then when you get that type of case forwarded to you as a detective, every other case you’re working goes backseat, and it’s scramble mode. We’ve got to start digging on this, this is a huge one.
Dan [00:12:03] I do want to point out too, that you are glad that you were the one dispatched the second time a couple weeks later, that initial contact, that’s very important. Because being a cop, I’m not naive to the fact that there are certainly patrol officers out there who would have brushed that call off, and not gone the extra mile to ask the important questions, try to find the important evidence on that tablet. And that’s just the reality of it and cops are not happy that we sometimes work with people who will just brush a case like that aside because you’re just at the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to find out, you just have to ask a couple more questions. That’s all you have to do.
Dave [00:12:45] And it’s all about demeanor. That’s how you build rapport is that you’re not judging this victim, you’re not judging the family based on the dynamic and the circumstances you’re there, that you’re really there to help. And that has to come across because you’re a genuine, authentic person when dealing with somebody. There are others in our world of policing that would not have the ability to gather that kind of information or build that kind of rapport.
Dan [00:13:15] You’ve got to really care. And Detective Kyle, it’s obvious that you cared. You recognize right from the get-go, this is a huge problem.
Kyle [00:13:24] Absolutely. Just stood out with the age of the young lady involved and just the difficulties that the family was having some of the things that she’d been through, it stood out as something that it was important to try to follow up on that.
Kyle [00:14:02] Grandmother explains to me that potentially the men that Amanda’s communicating with were living internationally, which makes us particularly difficult to figure out who they are. And just because they said they were international, doesn’t necessarily mean that they were because, again, these are very anonymous programs. But there was a potential that she had been making some kind of contacts internationally through these apps.
The man that Amanda said that she had met to have this sexual contact is from a European country, and this is according to Amanda’s knowledge of who he is. Not that I would ever dismiss the fact that this guy could actually be from a different country, but somewhat less common than just a predator who lives in our own community or nearby community that’s posing with these things to build those layers of defense to protect themselves from prosecution.
Yeardley [00:14:50] And also to make the story better, more alluring, more romantic, more whatever they think it’s going to do.
Kyle [00:14:56] That’s absolutely correct. And in this case, it seemed like there’s certainly a potential that he’s making up a story to romanticize what’s happening, that it’s exciting because he’s from a different country, and he’s pursuing her. And that definitely played into her mentality. In my contact with her, she’s explaining that she cares for this person. Amanda believes that he loves her, and says that she loves him as well. She actually makes a statement that she believes that they’re going to get married, and they’re going to run off together, which is sick. But it’s what she believes. What Amanda believes is happening is that there’s this caring relationship, although it’s new and mostly is happening anonymously through application, that goes to the mentality of a young child.
Yeardley [00:15:42] She’s so young though.
Dave [00:15:44] This is grooming 101. This is all grooming. And he’s good at it, clearly convinced a little girl to leave her house in the middle of the night to come meet him.
Yeardley [00:15:56] In a park.
Dave [00:15:58] Right. What’s the suspect’s name?
Kyle [00:16:00] Suspect in this case is Gary.
Dave [00:16:02] Okay. And does Amanda name him?
Kyle [00:16:05] She had a name for Gary. But believe it or not, it wasn’t his true name.
Dave [00:16:09] Weird.
Kyle [00:16:11] Which was not a surprise. And it goes to the nature of the contact and showing some of his mindset is, he’s providing layers of false identity on the front end. Why do you do that?
Dave [00:16:22] To avoid prosecution.
Jay [00:16:25] One of the things Gary had also done in the initial chat with Amanda was, had created essentially a looped video of a female on the other end of this chat, so it appeared that Amanda was talking to a teen girl. So, it just showed that there was a female that she was chatting with and when Amanda recognized the movements of the mouth did not match what was being said, then she called him out and then, he asked her to go to a different chat site. And that’s when she found out he was an adult male.
Dan [00:16:59] She’s pretty quick!
Jay [00:17:00] Yes, she absolutely is. And even though of her very young age, I would say she probably acts seven, eight years older than she’s able to communicate with style of an adult, less so than a child.
Dave [00:17:13] And that’s life experience and exposure.
Jay [00:17:15] That is one of the unfortunate side effects of this, is that she’s had to grow up way too quick.
Yeardley [00:17:21] I’m curious that when she finds out that she hasn’t been chatting with a teenage girl and then the guy says, “No, it’s actually me,” that she doesn’t go, “You lie to me,” and then all bets are off. There must be some hook there.
Jay [00:17:35] I don’t know, I can’t get into her mind as to what exactly she’s looking for on these chats, but she’s definitely interested in meeting people.
Yeardley [00:17:43] Right. And how old is Gary?
Jay [00:17:45] He is 23 years old.
Dave [00:17:49] So, a patrol officer in this situation where you’re at the hospital, they’re doing the forensic evidence gathering, a rape examination, the police aren’t going to get too detailed, especially with the child’s age with an interview. You’re going to get the basics. What has she told grandma? What does grandma know? What has she told the SANE nurse, sexual assault nurse examiner? What did she say to the SANE nurse? Is it the same story? And the detective handles the forensic interview portion where you get the real details of these cases.
I’m curious if Amanda has provided some of the basics like where they met? Was it in a car? Was it in a park? Was it in a hotel room? And the coordination through the social media app. There’s a reason Amanda takes off with grandma’s phone is that that’s how they’re going to coordinate where they’re meeting up, correct?
Kyle [00:18:43] That’s exactly correct. I don’t want to get too far into an interview and into details because we have people that are specially trained in forensic interviews with kids, and it’s important that we do that the right way. But we also need to know a baseline. So, at this time, what I’m looking to do is to get a general idea of what am I looking at in scope so I know where the detectives can pick up. I need to work to retain any kind of evidence that we can and that’s part of that sexual assault forensic evaluation. And we also have a digital aspect to this.
And so, in talks with her, she does mention that she did leave the house and that she met Gary at a local park near her residence, and that they did have sexual contact in a vehicle. And a couple things that she said that became instantly apparent with this is that she truly did believe that he was from a different country, from a European country, and mentioned that Gary was driving a vehicle that had a license plate from a different state.
Dave [00:19:40] And I’m thinking rental car right away.
Kyle [00:19:42] Exactly. Amanda also makes a statement saying that she saw a passport and this is starting to build layers of reality.
Dave [00:19:50] Do we have any indication where Amanda is as far as her loyalty and dedication to Gary or is she now realizing that she’s a victim of abuse?
Kyle [00:20:03] She’s not. There was, in my opinion, a true belief that there’s love here between them. And she’s truly tied to this person to the point where the nurse that was doing the evaluation tells me that Amanda asked for that nurse’s phone to call Gary while in the process of this examination. So, he’s got her wrapped around his finger, right where he wants her.
Yeardley [00:20:26] Now, the nurse doesn’t give the phone over, does she?
Kyle [00:20:30] Absolutely not. They would not do that. But she wanted to make sure that I knew that this is happening, because I’m not present during that portion of the investigation, rightfully so. But while that’s happening, I’m getting that information from grandma about what was initially disclosed. And I also want to try to retain information and so with these applications, I know that much of the data of those don’t necessarily live on the phone. Now, there’s certainly photographs and those kind of things that can be saved on the phone. But these are third-party applications and at times, if those are accessed from a different device, things can be deleted afterwards. So for me, because I realized that Gary, our suspect, is nowhere to be seen, he can potentially erase things on his side and Amanda with encouragement from him could also access and delete things from her side.
So, with the grandma’s permission, I went through the device, took pictures and tried to capture all the information I can on that phone. There was a fair amount of text chat conversation on these applications. Particularly one of the applications they’re using is one on which you can send video messages, you can send text messages, and also upload pictures to send back and forth. And in the evidence I saw, I did see, unfortunately, sexually explicit photos of Amanda, that she’s passed to Gary, and continuing conversation.
Now, the conversations started a handful of days before from the information that was on the phone. But based on the familiarity that they had, I knew that there was messages that I couldn’t see, whether they had been deleted or purged, it was clear that they knew each other and this had been ongoing.
Dan [00:22:04] And any of these photos is Gary’s face featured?
Kyle [00:22:08] It was, and so was hers. There was videos that she had sent and photos as well.
Yeardley [00:22:14] That seems good that he’s actually revealed his face.
Jay [00:22:17] Yeah, I agree. 100%. The only problem for us at this point is that we don’t have a name to go with the face. We searched tons of different sites, information sites and database sites, trying to find anything remotely close to what he had reported his name to be, and we struck out completely.
Kyle [00:22:36] One thing I noticed, there was a fair amount of explicit text back and forth. And one of the things she said was– she makes mention about if she gets pregnant from him, that she’d have to move far away with him. That’s just baffling for the age of the kiddo that we’re talking about. And it gives you as an investigator, or just a police officer in general, a little bit of zeal for wanting to go after this guy, because it’s just so wrong.
Dan [00:23:00] Gets your blood boiling.
Kyle [00:23:02] It does. There was also a conversation about a prior sexual experience that he had with a child with a teenager. There were some questions about comparison about essentially who was better. So, that gives us some insight into some of his background. Of course, people can say things and they brag, but under the circumstances that we’re dealing with, I have no doubt that that was probably a real contact that he had before her.
So, moving on from that contact, I ended up providing that information to the supervisor for the detective unit and obviously that’s when they got involved. The phone ended up getting lodged as evidence. I’ve already taken photos, but there’s a forensic process that we can go through also to try to extract more information, and sometimes that can be deleted files.
Once I pass this information off to the detective sergeant, they’re going to assign the case and have the detectives start working on it. Partly because I’m invested now and especially speaking from a patrol side is often patrol officers get involved in cases, they do the front end and then it gets passed off, and that can be tough for people that care about their work because you don’t get to see the back end. And as a detective now, I get some of that reward of seeing things all the way through. And this was just one I’ve had contact with a family, so I wanted to make sure that I could do what I can to help.
I worked with another detective and wrote a preservation letter for the application that housed some of this information. And what that is, is it’s basically a notice to the company saying, “Hey, we want to retain information, don’t let it get deleted, because most likely we’re going to be following up with a search warrant.”
Yeardley [00:24:38] So, they can– as the back end of that application, they have the ability to freeze that content, essentially?
Kyle [00:24:46] They do, and every company is different. So, I can’t speak to the length of time. But what I do know is that with these applications, a lot of the information isn’t housed necessarily on the phone, but it’s housed in servers that belong to that company that has created that application. And so, that’s a way for us to be able to get to that. Sometimes through a legal process, of course, but sometimes that can take a while.
So, that was sent off. At the same time, I had contact with a teacher. And this teacher worked in the same school where Amanda went to school, wasn’t her direct teacher, but had befriended her, I think, probably saw a kid that needed some support and some care. And so as a good teacher would, they were in Amanda’s life. And this teacher mentioned to me that Amanda had made a couple disclosures to her about this contact with a male and also had mentioned that he had given her a sweatshirt. That, again, goes to the grooming, the classic grooming of showering somebody with gifts. And it wasn’t a lavish gift obviously, it was a sweatshirt. But for somebody like Amanda, I think that just helps connect them and really builds up that sense of love, I guess, is what she thinks is going on here.
The teacher also had mentioned a notebook that Amanda did drawings in and had noticed a picture that she believed Amanda had drawn of herself in a wedding dress. This is what we’re talking about with the grooming and the mentality of a child not understanding what’s actually going on here.
And then, Detective Jay and Detective Jeff, who is also working on this case, and did an incredible amount of work where picking up where I’d left off.
Jay [00:26:42] I worked this case with Detective Jeff, who’s now retired. And after we received the work from Kyle, which was excellent, what we wanted to do was schedule a Child Advocacy Center interview for Amanda so that she could give a full disclosure of what occurred.
Yeardley [00:27:00] Is this one of those child forensic interviews that you all have referred to before?
Jay [00:27:04] Yes, that’s exactly what it is. During that interview, which went very well, Amanda gave us a full accounting of what occurred. She also told us that she had spent a couple nights in a hotel with Gary. Now, that really helps our case, because you have to register for a hotel room. So, if we can figure out which hotel room, this will give us a great idea of when this occurred and who our suspect is.
Yeardley [00:27:30] How does Amanda go missing for a few nights without her grandmother knowing?
Jay [00:27:34] Well, she was just sneaking out at night.
Yeardley [00:27:36] Okay, so she came back before grandma had woken up even?
Jay [00:27:39] Yes.
Yeardley [00:27:40] Got it.
Jay [00:27:41] So, this occurred over a three-day period, I believe. And each night she would sneak out and come back. Detective Jeff, through the interviewer, asked to identify what the room look like and what the name of the hotel was.
Yeardley [00:27:55] And she was able to go into some detail about that?
Kyle [00:27:58] Yes, Amanda worked with Detective Jeff and the forensic interviewer to draw some pictures of what these places look like. Through a little bit of process of elimination for some of our local motels, we found out where we believe that these places were.
Jay [00:28:14] So, we actually had Detective Kyle go out nd go to those hotels.
Kyle [00:28:19] And I don’t know who I’m looking for yet. I have a general idea of what this person being Gary looks like, but don’t know a name because at this point, we’re assuming that the name that he’s provided through the chat stuff is not going to be real. But we have enough information to think that there’s some credibility about the fact that he’s from a different country and hopefully that stands out on a registration card. I just spoke with the clerk and said, “Hey, give me these dates. And I’m going to start looking.”
Jay [00:28:46] You match the dates of when this would have occurred. And the clerk at the motel provided us the name. And we were able to determine that it was Gary. And Gary had conveniently registered with his passport from a European country, which had the passport number, his actual address, and his actual name.
Yeardley [00:29:06] Oh, yes.
Kyle [00:29:07] Exactly. That provided us with a great way to kick off this investigation into an actual person.
Yeardley [00:29:13] In another country.
Kyle [00:29:14] In another country. Yep.
Jay [00:29:15] I was able to find his house on Google and look at it through Google Earth, and so I know exactly where he was staying.
Dan [00:29:24] If I was assigned to go check out a hotel, and you hit the jackpot in the first one, the other thing I’m looking at when I’m walking through the parking lot is, are there surveillance cameras?
Jay [00:29:35] There are surveillance cameras. Unfortunately, a lot of places at that time had video surveillance that didn’t last for more than a week.
Dave [00:29:45] So, it’s purged already.
Jay [00:29:46] Yeah.
Yeardley [00:29:47] Ah, that has to be so frustrating.
Jay [00:29:49] Yeah. The time of the initial report was about a week and a half till we found out about the hotel rooms through the Child Advocacy Center interview.
Kyle [00:29:58] During this timeframe where we’re waiting for the forensic interview. Amanda did have at least one subsequent contact with Gary, and in that it sounded though he had expressed interest in coming back to see her, and she also was worried that he would be arrested because she obviously knew police were now involved in this case. So, she makes mention to him that that she has a concern about that.
Dan [00:30:20] And he’s probably sweating bullets now.
Jay [00:30:22] Now, that we’ve got his passport number, from our side we’re turning up the heat a little bit because through our partner agencies in the federal government, we can look up his passport number. Now, I don’t have access as a detective to research passport numbers but through customs, they were able to tell us every time he’s visited America. We find that there’s two times, this was the second time, and he was here for a total of four days, including travel time.
Yeardley [00:30:48] So, Gary has left the country.
Jay [00:30:50] He’s gone. So, this was a quick hit. Get out of here.
Yeardley [00:30:54] Do you think he got out because Amanda had gone to the hospital? Or did he get out because that was always the plan?
Jay [00:31:02] That was always the plan. He booked this for basically a long weekend, and it was his intent to stay for a very short time.
Dan [00:31:10] What that does for the case too, it just speaks specifically to his intent.
Jay [00:31:14] Yes, exactly.
Dan [00:31:14] He’s here for one thing, and one thing only.
Jay [00:31:17] There’s no love here. He’s just here to do what he wants to do to this pre-teen kid and be done. The prior time was about a year and a half before, he had a visa application to work at a camp for disabled children. He was a lifeguard and had worked a summer at this camp in a different part of the country. So, we’re starting to see even more red flags, not that we had wasn’t blazing red already, but now we’re seeing that there’s a pattern of this.
So, with the help of the customs and FBI, we’re looking into this trying to figure out how are we going to have to approach this? Are we going to go fly to this European country and go interview him? There are many aspects of this case that look extremely difficult in terms of getting him. Certainly not impossible, but in terms of do we get a warrant for his arrest and then we bring him back? Or do we have him extradited from this other country?
And we get a call from the FBI and they’ve been doing some research into Gary, and they said, “Oh, hey, by the way, we found that Gary’s supposed to fly into the US three days from now from his European country.” We got very excited about this. We don’t have to go get him, he’s going to come to us. He was booked on a flight from his European country to the East Coast of United States. We contacted customs at that airport, and told them what we were investigating and they were very happy to help us with this.
Now, we certainly had enough to arrest Gary, now we know what his identity was, for the crimes of rape. But one of the things we’re cautioned about through customs is if he has a warrant at the time he’s going to get on the plane, they will not allow him to board the plane. So, we had to juggle this, because they don’t want wanted people coming into the country. So, Detective Jeff spent most of the day writing up affidavit that was very inclusive of every aspect of this case, and took it to a judge.
Now, the judge signed the warrant. We held on to the warrant. We gave it to our record folks. And we said, “Okay, don’t enter this yet. But when we call you, we want you to put it in the system.” Once we had confirmation that he was on the plane, we’d have entered so that they can’t really turn around and take him back and then, we could get him when he gets to the East Coast. So, Detective Jeff and I, we fly to the East Coast. And we immediately check in with the local airport police which were fantastically inept.
Yeardley [00:33:54] Did you say inept? [chuckles]
Jay [00:33:56] Yes. And well, this is one of these (unintelligible), “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to help them out here. You know, maybe go talk to George.” And they just kept kicking us down the way to some other cop. This was clearly a graveyard for careers. You think of lazy cops, and this was the epitome.
Dan [00:34:13] When I brought up earlier, there are cops that would have brushed this aside, kissed it off. This is what we’re talking about, what you ran into at this airport. It’s so frustrating for cops who are doing this, not just for a paycheck, but we genuinely give a shit.
Jay [00:34:28] Yeah.
Dan [00:34:28] And we want to catch bad guys, especially guys like this. It’s so frustrating for us.
Yeardley [00:34:33] It’s shocking to me that they wouldn’t, first of all, seize an extraordinary opportunity to do the right thing, just that in and of itself.
Jay [00:34:42] To get directed to somebody that was willing to help us was the biggest challenge, but once we found the guy, his name was Officer George from the airport police department, he was absolutely amazing to work with. He bent over backwards. He stayed late and worked overtime to help us with this case. So, once we got ahold of him and the customs folks at this airport, things went very smoothly.
We formulate this plan of how we’re going to do this. We spent our first night in this East Coast city, in the hotel. We woke up the morning and made the phone call to customs. And they said, “Yep, he’s on the plane, and he’ll be here in the afternoon.” We headed to the airport. The chief of customs told us “Hey, you know what? I’ve radioed ahead. I’ve asked the pilot to have everybody on the plane sit down, and not get up after this flight.” I’m like, “Great. So, we’re just going to do a walk down the aisle and go to meet this guy.” That works 0 times out of 10.
Yeardley [00:35:41] [laughs]
Dan [00:35:42] There’s always that guy on the plane.
Jay [00:35:44] Well, there’s that guy, then there’s the guy next to him, and the gal behind him. And so, we get on the plane, we go through the door. I’m like, “This is cool. I’ve never been in the situation. These guys are walking like they do it every day.” And then, we turn that first corner out of the door and look down and everybody stood up. And the chief told the pilot to get on the PA and say, “Hey, everybody sit down.” Well, he did. And nobody did, nobody sat down.
Yeardley [00:36:09] What? Who are these people?
Dave [00:36:11] Get me off this plane!
Jay [00:36:12] Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. And so there’s two aisles in the plane, a large center section, then the window sides. We start walking, and then people are still standing up. And then I hear this yelling coming from in front of me. “Everybody! Sit out right now! Customs department! Sit down!” And it’s just like, everybody drops. I’m like, “You can’t yell on an airplane, who does that?” And I’m like, “Oh, that guy. That guy. He can.”
Yeardley [00:36:40] If you wear the uniform, yeah.
Jay [00:36:41] Yeah, he’s in uniform.
Dave [00:36:43] Probably not his first time where people stood up.
Jay [00:36:45] That’s right. Yes. So, that’s when the cell phones come out. And everybody’s like, “Oh, there’s something happened.” And so they start recording this as we’re walking down thing, and I’m just kind of, “I don’t want to be on YouTube,” covering my face as we’re walking.” Believe it or not, Gary was in the last row, in the very middle seat. So, the cheapest ticket was the last row in the middle seat. So, we get to him, and two people were sitting on either side of them, and was like, “Hey, we need to talk to you, Gary.” And he’s looking around and both people next to him is like, “Oh, which one you guys is in trouble?” And they were like, “No, it’s you.”
Yeardley [00:37:17] [chuckles]
Jay [00:37:41] So we grab him, we take him off the plane, and then, we walk him into customs. They process him. They essentially deny his visa application to come into the country. And what they did is they paroled him to me. So, I technically, according to the customs, still have custody of Gary because he’s been paroled to me. We take them to an interview room. In the interview room, Detective Jeff and I spent about 45 minutes interviewing Gary.
English is not Gary’s first language. So, we read him his Miranda warning in English. And Detective Jeff did a good job of getting an evaluation of how much he understood of English and about the legal process because somebody’s never been questioned by the police before in a foreign country, they might not know anything about what level Miranda is and how that implicates their ability to make a decision to talk or not.
During the interview, Gary tells us that, yeah, he did come over here to United States and, yeah, he was hanging out with Amanda and, yeah, he had sex with Amanda. But it’s okay because she’s 19.
Yeardley [00:38:48] Really? I was going to say, I don’t know how you mistake such a young girl for being 19. But, of course, it’s not a mistake on Gary’s part. It’s completely intentional because it’s his thing. That’s his jam. And it’s disgusting.
Jay [00:39:06] Right. We called him on that, and that’s when he started to squirm in his seat. Gary decides he wants to talk to a lawyer. This is not a bad thing, in my opinion, because it shows that– after confessing essentially, it shows that he understood the process well enough, so that when we go to a hearing in court, and they say, “Well, my client didn’t even understand. He’s from a different country. How could he know what’s going on? How could he have made these statements freely and voluntarily?” “Well, he asked for a lawyer.” He ended the interview on his request. So, that worked out well for us.
Gary was taken to the local county jail. He spent two nights there. The second day, he was arraigned in court on a Sunday. Sunday court appearance was something I was wholly unfamiliar with, but in a large city, I guess they have court every day of the week. He was given a lawyer, and the lawyer who represented him asked him about the extradition because you waive extradition to be sent back to our state. The threshold for that is just proving the identity of somebody. And I’d say 99% of the cases, people always waive extradition.
Yeardley [00:40:18] You waive extradition means you won’t make you, Jay, go through the process of filing paperwork to extradite him back to your state?
Jay [00:40:28] Yes. And that could take weeks or months, and so forth. So, he waives the process, and then the judge signs off on that, we’re clear to take him the next day. So, we spend the night and the next day we go, we show up at this massive jail complex. And we have paperwork from a judge saying, “Hey, we’d like to take this guy. Can you give us Gary?” About an hour later, they finally brought him to us. So, we drove him back to the airport in our car, and we’re supposed to be there three hours ahead of time to get through security with the custody. Well, it took an extra hour for us to get Gary out of the jail. So, we had to rush through there.
We flew him back. We had one layover, and while we’re in the layover, he asked us to look into his computer and get a password for him. I’m immediately skeptical. He said, “In my backpack, there’s a list of numbers on a sheet of paper. Can you get that and go put that in my computer?” And I’m like, “Hmm, uh, I don’t know about this?” Clearly, this guy’s taken several steps to cover up his tracks. Is this going to wipe his hard drive? Is this going to destroy potential evidence?
Yeardley [00:41:36] It’s like the cyanide pill for his computer.
Jay [00:41:39] Exactly. So, we say, “No.” And we bring him back to our Small Town, and we had a patrol car meet us at the airport.
Kyle [00:41:49] And that was me. That was probably one of the best feelings of my career to be able to pick him up at the airport and go full circle with the thing. And they were nice enough to include me in that because, at that point, they’re kind of off jet setting and doing the cool detective thing. I appreciated that. That was a good feeling be able to go lodge him at our Small Town jail.
Yeardley [00:42:10] That’s cool.
Jay [00:42:11] A few days after he got arrested, this has made big news in this guy’s small European town. We’re getting media calling us. We’re also having the police contact us. We received an email from a detective in this small town where Gary lived, and he told us about an investigation he was involved with that had occurred just six months before this.
Well, Gary had been downloading child pornography. They went to his house, served a search warrant, and ultimately arrested him. He admitted to downloading the child pornography and was charged through their justice system. Gary also had a laptop that was seized by that police department and when asked what the password was, he gave him a ton of passwords that were all wrong. And he just had the one block, “I just can’t remember. I don’t know, you know, try this one, try this one.” And ultimately, they were never able to get into it. Their computer forensic experts were not able to get anything computer due to the encryption placed around the computer. And our agency was also never able to get into his computer.
Dave [00:43:19] He was smart. And it’s just one of those things, sometimes you just can’t get into it.
Yeardley [00:43:25] If you can’t get into his computer, you still have enough evidence to put him in prison?
Jay [00:43:31] Oh, yeah. One of the things we did is we’re always looking for evidence to corroborate the story given to us by a victim. And in this case, what we did is with assistance from the FBI, we were able to track down the rental car that Gary had rented. We sent our forensic lab up to that airport and we had them process the car. And they did find DNA evidence confirming the presence of both Amanda and Gary.
Yeardley [00:44:00] So, you’re saying it was weeks after the incident with Amanda and Gary that they were still able to get DNA from that rental car?
Jay [00:44:06] Yes.
Yeardley [00:44:07] That’s disturbing.
Dave [00:44:08] What kind of DNA [unintelligible]?
Jay [00:44:10] His semen.
Yeardley [00:44:11] That car hadn’t been cleaned very well.
Jay [00:44:15] Yeah, that might be an eye-opener for anybody who rents a car, stays at a hotel. This is a PSA from Detective Jay, Small Town Police Department. It was found on the backseat of the car. Gary sits down for the long ride of the US Justice System and the wheels turn slowly after the arrest.
Dave [00:44:35] Does he take it to trial or is this a plea deal?
Jay [00:44:39] No, this was an overwhelming case in terms of the evidence. Gary did not elect to go to trial. There was a huge media outcry due to the fact that somebody from a different country flew over to our country to have sexual intercourse with a very young child. So, given the number of times that Gary had sexually abused Amanda, they were able to aggregate the counts because there was a break between the first night, the second night, and the third night, they could add it all up. The judge spent a lot of time and did a lot of research on sentencing for this type of offense, and found that what occurs in similar European countries to where Gary was from, was not inconsistent with what he was looking at here. So, ultimately, Gary was sentenced to 50 years in prison for multiple counts of sexual abuse of a child.
Dave [00:45:37] And I’m guessing as a lifeguard, there weren’t any disclosures or victims that we were able to determine from his occupation a year and a half prior to his journey to our jurisdiction?
Jay [00:45:49] FBI looked into that, and they contacted local jurisdictions where he had been the lifeguard, and they were not able to find any cases. He was also a lifeguard in his country in Europe, too, so we did alert the local police there, and they were not able to come up with anything either.
Dan [00:46:08] He’s aware that the police are involved, at least in one case.
Yeardley [00:46:12] Right, because Amanda had warned him about their interactions.
Dan [00:46:16] And he still, just weeks later, is already making a return trip to our country. Did he think that he had enough layers of protection where, “Uh, they haven’t figured out who I am yet.”
Jay [00:46:28] I think his arrogance benefited this case greatly. He thinks that’s all the way on the other side of the country. How are they going to know? Where is this Small Town anyway? No one’s ever heard of it. We benefited greatly from that. And if he’s up to the same tricks that he was doing in our town, then I think, hopefully, we’ve saved somebody else from becoming a victim there.
Dave [00:46:53] And, lastly, we always like to know, how is Amanda?
Jay [00:47:00] Well, Amanda is a incredibly intelligent person and I’ve had occasion to contact her. She’s always kind and polite, but I don’t know that she’s necessarily on the right path and hasn’t quite recovered from the child she was to the adult she had to become. So, she’s still years ahead of where a child of her age should be, in terms of experiences. She is doing the best she can. She does have a loving family. She still lives with her grandmother.
Yeardley [00:47:33] Were her parents actually ever involved once Gary was caught?
Jay [00:47:39] She communicated with her father after this case came to our attention over a video chat. There was no face-to-face contact. Her father and her mother are not in her life. There was a fair amount of prior abuse prior to meeting Gary, and I think that may have–
Yeardley [00:47:59] Made her grow up really fast.
Jay [00:48:00] Yes.
Dan [00:48:02] She’s been a victim her whole life.
Jay [00:48:04] Yes.
Dan [00:48:04] It’s terrible.
Yeardley [00:48:06] That hurts my heart. Well, gentlemen, I know it’s a very difficult time to be in law enforcement. But your work always, always speaks for itself, all of you. I’ve said it before, if I was ever in a bad situation, I’d want people like you to investigate my case. So, thank you.
Dave [00:48:30] Appreciate that.
Dan [00:48:31] Thank you, gentlemen.
Yeardley [00:48:32] Thank you.
Kyle [00:48:33] Yeah, thanks for having us.
Yeardley [00:48:43] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and co-produced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Logan Heftel, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and The Real Nick Smitty. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. And our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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Yeardley [00:49:38] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to Small Towns across the country.
Dan [00:49:45] In search of the finest rare true crime cases told, as always, by the detectives who investigated them.
Dave [00:49:52] So, thanks for listening, Small Town fam.
Yeardley [00:49:54] Nobody’s better than you.