A young mother gets a strange visit from a neighbor. He tells her his security cameras have captured her daughter doing inappropriate things. Shocked and suspicious, the mother calls the police. Detective Dave arrives and begins to investigate. He discovers the neighbor’s story does not hold up, and the truth is alarming.
The Detective: Detective Dave recently retired from law enforcement in January 2022. He began his career in 2007 and served as a patrol officer until 2012. Dave spent the next six years as a detective where he primarily investigated sexual assaults and child abuse. Dave was promoted to Sergeant in 2018 and was reassigned to patrol, where he served for the remainder of his career. During his time in law enforcement he held special assignments to the Crisis and Hostage Negotiation Team, Child Fatality Review, the county’s deadly force investigation team, and served on the advisory boards of multiple children’s and victim’s advocacy groups.Read Transcript
Dave: [00:00:06] The hairs on my arm are standing up right now.
Paul: [00:00:08] This is a dangerous guy. You covet what you see. I think he’s wanting more than just to watch.
Yeardley: [00:00:18] That’s terrifying.
Dave: [00:00:19] This could have been so bad.[Small Town Dicks intro]
Yeardley: [00:00:24] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:00:26] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:00:27] I’m Dave.
Paul: [00:00:27] And I’m Paul.
Yeardley: [00:00:28] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:00:31] Dave and I are identical twins and retired detectives from Small Town, USA.
Paul: [00:00:35] And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.
Dan: [00:00:41] Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.
Dave: [00:00:48] Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.
Paul: [00:00:54] Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.
Dan: [00:01:00] And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved.
Dave: [00:01:07] Out of respect for what they’ve been through.
In Unison: [00:01:10] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:01:20] Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:26] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:01:27] Hello. Hello, you. We have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:30] Hello.Happy to be here.
Yeardley: [00:01:32] Happy to have you. And we have the one and only Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:01:36] Hey, everybody.
Yeardley: [00:01:37] Hey. Small Town Fam, we’re all seated around same table. This is always a very special day, especially for me. All right, today, we have a case from our very own Detective Dave. Tell us how this case came to you.
Dave: [00:01:52] This case occurred when I was a sex crimes and child abuse detective. I’d been a detective probably for about maybe a year. This call came in around 2:00 in the afternoon. It was a weekday, so all the detectives were working that day. And I get a call from dispatch that says they got a call from a mother named Emily, who said, “I was just approached at my front door by my neighbor. The neighbor is Chandler.” Chandler is retired, 65 to 70 years old, lives in the house directly south of Emily’s residence.
Yeardley: [00:02:27] When you say south, do you mean directly next-door kind of thing?
Dave: [00:02:32] Correct. If you’re out in the street and you’re looking at these two houses, suspect’s residence is on the right, victim’s residence is on the left, and they share a common area that’s maybe 10 to 15 feet wide, and that area is landscaped just with cinder rock. So, there’s no bushes, there’s no trees between the two houses. This common area is wide open. Chandler goes over to Emily’s house and knocks on the door, speaks to Emily and says, “Hey, I just wanted to give you a heads-up. About a year ago, I installed a couple of cameras on the side of my house and they point towards the common area between our houses and it happens to pick up the portion of your house that includes your daughter’s bedroom window.” Chandler says, “The only reason I’m coming over now to self-report this is I’ve observed on these cameras some disturbing footage of your daughter.”
Yeardley: [00:03:33] What’s the daughter’s name?
Dave: [00:03:34] The daughter’s name is Jenna. Jenna is the middle child of three kids. And Chandler is basically telling Emily, “I just want you to be aware of what’s going on in your house.” And Emily’s like, “What are you talking about? My daughter is an elementary-age schoolgirl and she gives us no problems. What are you talking about?” He’s like, “Well, my cameras do record. And I have recorded sessions where your daughter is hanging out with her friends in her room and they’re like experimenting, fooling around, like kissing or drawing tattoos on each other’s thighs.” That’s pretty specific.
Yeardley: [00:04:13] Yeah, it is.
Paul: [00:04:15] And Emily is thinking, her world is spinning right now. Like, “My neighbor, old man, just told me that he’s been watching my daughter.”
Paul: [00:04:29] Is he saying that, “Okay, these cameras are set up as part of a security system,” and does he have other cameras monitoring other parts of the perimeter of the house?
Dave: [00:04:39] He says he’s got just two cameras, and they’re both on the same side of the house and they both cover the same common area between victim’s house and suspect’s house. His claim is that over the past year, he’s heard numerous bangs and slaps on the side of his house in the middle of the night, that he was worried that he had a trespasser or A prowler who was focusing on his house did not feel like it was wildlife, like a raccoon or deer trying to get into his backyard or anything like that. But he wanted to capture footage of this prowler and it just so happens that these cameras also pick up victim’s daughter’s bedroom window.
Yeardley: [00:05:22] I don’t like it.
Dave: [00:05:23] Right. It doesn’t pass the smell test. And there’s no other cameras around Chandler’s house. There’s just two on this one side of the house. So, Emily’s bedroom, when we talk about this bedroom window, I had a vision of what the side of two houses facing each other look like. But on Chandler’s side, there’s the one window that faces Emily’s residence. Same thing, Emily’s residence has one window that faces Chandler’s residence.
Yeardley: [00:05:51] And is it on the first floor or the second floor?
Dave: [00:05:53] These are both one-story houses. Chandler’s window is a little bit offset from Jenna’s window. You don’t just look out one and you see into the other, you have to angle yourself. Oddly enough, these cameras are positioned so they’re right in line to capture Jenna’s room.
Yeardley: [00:06:14] Just Jenna’s room?
Dave: [00:06:15] Just Jenna’s room. They’re not centered on the house, they are centered on Jenna’s bedroom window. Jenna’s bedroom window is not four or five feet off the ground. It’s almost seven feet off the ground. You can look into the window, but all you’re going to see is the ceiling. Again, this common area is wide open. There’s really no bushes in the immediate area that I would find would be likely for a prowler to go walking around in. It’s just too wide open. Some bushes in the street but you got a clear, unfettered view all the way to the back fence. Emily checks the area where Chandler has self-reported has got two cameras up on the side of the house and she can’t find them. She says she studies the area and she’s like, “I couldn’t see the cameras location until they’re actually pointed out to me.”
Paul: [00:07:10] I mean, typically part of the deterrence of cameras is the visibility the cameras, so anybody who’s kind of look at and is going, “Oh, no, there’s a camera up there.” Right?
Yeardley: [00:07:19] Exactly.
Dave: [00:07:21] Patrol goes out there, basically to talk to the mother and gather more information. And we had two officers, Officer Liz and Officer Brian. Officer Liz and Officer Brian recognize very quickly that there’s something creepy going on.
Paul: [00:07:37] How many years on the force do they have?
Dave: [00:07:39] Officer Liz was hired the same day I was but she had previous experience. Officer Brian was a police officer at a neighboring agency for several years and then came to our agency.
Paul: [00:07:52] So, these are experienced officers.
Dave: [00:07:54] They are. It’s not like they were just born yesterday. And they summon a patrol sergeant to come out and basically say, “We don’t know what we have crime-wise, but this is creepy. We might want to get detectives out here.”
[00:08:08] When I get there, patrol’s already been contacted by Chandler, who’s looking around, like “Why are the cops out here?” They speak to him and Chandler is immediately irritated that a call to police was generated by what he reported. He doesn’t understand it. He’s like, “I’m trying to do the right thing, and now I’ve got the cops asking questions. What the hell?” Officer Liz and Officer Brian, while they’re speaking with Chandler, Chandler says, “I’ll show you where the cameras are.” And so, they do a little field trip around to the north side of Chandler’s house. And Officer Liz and Officer Brian go, “Where are they?” They can’t see them either.
Yeardley: [00:08:48] Wow. So, how big are these cameras?
Dave: [00:08:50] These cameras are what we refer to as like pinhole or lipstick cameras. Lipstick is too much diameter for how big these cameras are. They’re actually the size of like a pencil eraser.
Yeardley: [00:09:04] Shut up.
Paul: [00:09:06] This is what you get out of spy shops, right?
Yeardley: [00:09:08] Right.
Dave: [00:09:10] And what Chandler had done is he had not installed these cameras via the outside of his home. He went up into his attic, strung USB cords from his office, which is below the attic, and strategically, specifically drilled two holes in the side of the clapboard-style siding. It’s the horizontal siding that overlaps. So, it’s like the higher side casts a shadow on the lower panel. These two cameras are drilled right into the shadow under the clapboard-style siding of one of these boards. These cameras are about 11 feet off the ground.
[00:09:51] I remember when I got out there, I had to be pointed to where specifically these were. And when I initially set foot on Jenna and Emily and Chandler’s properties, that common area in between the houses, I just took it in. I remember scanning the area going, “Where are these cameras? I don’t see anything. What are we talking about?” And it was like the Field of Dreams, Moonlight Graham. I step from the front yards into this common area and it’s large cinder rock. Honestly when you walk on it, it sounds like you’re walking on Cap’n Crunch. [Yeardley chuckles] I mean, it’s loud.
Paul: [00:10:32] I haven’t heard the term ‘cinder rock’ until you brought that up. Is this like lava rock?
Dave: [00:10:38] It is. Cinder rock, you see it on like the warning track of a baseball field is this very fine powdery, dark red. Cinder rock, it’s crushed. This was cinder rock that was like three quarter inch and there’s a crunch to it.
Dan: [00:10:53] Or if you buy one of those little hibachi grills and it comes with some rocks that you put in the gas grill. Those are the lava rocks. In the area that we live in, the cinder rock we have is typically red. It’s volcanic. It’s pyroclastic material but it’s red.
Paul: [00:11:08] Pyroclastic.
Dan: [00:11:10] Oh, yeah.
Yeardley: [00:11:11] Go, you.
Paul: [00:11:12] Dan just threw down a term there.[laughter]
Dan: [00:11:14] I got an A in Rocks for Jocks when I–[laughter]
Dave: [00:11:19] One might conclude it is an igneous rock.
Yeardley: [00:11:22] Oh, igneous.
Paul: [00:11:23] [laughs]
Dave: [00:11:24] I as well did very well in Rocks for Jocks, Geology 101 in college and satisfied my science requirement.
Yeardley: [00:11:32] Bravo, you both.
Dave: [00:11:34] When Chandler points out these cameras to Officer Liz and Officer Brian, he also relays to them what he’s already told Emily that, “I’ve been hearing prowlers for the last year, I’ve had these up. And yeah, I just wanted let Emily know there’s some stuff that’s going on in her daughter’s bedroom that I thought she should know.” Emily did absolutely the right thing. She’s a mama bear. She’s like, “I ain’t messing around with this guy. I’m calling the police.” So, the first day of this investigation is really like the first mile of a marathon. It took a while to run that first mile because we were out at this house for hours.
Dave: [00:12:38] Chandler shows me around his house. We have the office. Then, we have a front bedroom. That front bedroom has no less than 20 computer towers in it.
Yeardley: [00:12:50] Oh, my God.
Dave: [00:12:52] It also has shelves and organization storage stuff for computers like CD-ROMs and floppies, and there is just a trove of computer software and hardware in this one room.
Paul: [00:13:08] And he’s retired.
Dave: [00:13:09] Yeah. Chandler is retired. Chandler’s former occupation is computer repair.
Paul: [00:13:15] Does he show you on the computer screen that is hooked to these cameras, the view that these cameras had?
Dave: [00:13:23] He does not. Chandler did not show me the live view while we were at the house. By the time I got there, Chandler had already unhooked these devices and made them available for seizure. At that point, I’m like, “Well, I was working under consent. I did not want to shut the cooperation piece down. This is really what I’ve got.” So, I’m just going really off of what Chandler’s telling me.
Paul: [00:13:49] Sure.
Dave: [00:13:50] Until I get into these computers and actually find a video, I’m not going to be able to fact-check what Chandler is telling me. He’s relaying what he thinks is helping him.
Paul: [00:14:00] And he’s already admitted his cameras had view into Jenna’s bedroom.
Dave: [00:14:06] Correct.
Paul: [00:14:06] So, it’s not like you have to really establish, he’s like, “No, no. He told the family and he’s telling you.
Dave: [00:14:12] Yeah, so I never saw actual camera footage until several days later. But Chandler consented to a search of two computers that night. He consented to that to our patrol officers before I ever arrived, signed a consent to search form.
Paul: [00:14:28] This is kind of interesting at this point, because in essence, you have a homeowner who’s installed cameras that are just facing out public view. At this point, is there a crime that’s been committed?
Dave: [00:14:48] This is another one of those situations where I go, “I’ve got to check some serious boxes when we come to elements of crimes.” The one that immediately came to mind was invasion of personal privacy. I’m very familiar with that crime as a sex crimes detective. And I know that statute includes using a video depiction or recording to record someone in a place that they would have an expectation of privacy, while also the victim is in a state of undress. So, I have to prove the undress part, I’ve got to prove, “Do you have an expectation of privacy?” That hurdle to me, the expectation of privacy, is a fairly short hurdle. Most people feel fairly safe in their bedroom. And Chandler’s view from the window would only capture a sliver of Jenna’s bedroom. When you offset and put the camera centered on Jenna’s bedroom window, now you can capture the full scope of what you would expect to see from 10-15 feet away.
Paul: [00:15:54] From a legal standpoint, if Chandler’s just standing in his own personal residence looking out his window, and is able to see in his neighbor’s window, is there a crime there?
Dave: [00:16:07] There is a crime, if I can prove Chandler’s intent, that his intent is to capture a video depiction of somebody in a state of undress.
Paul: [00:16:18] So that right there is if there is actually a recording, just being a passive viewer versus somebody who has taken the act of, “Oh, I’m going to have something available to use in perpetuity.”
Dave: [00:16:33] Right. I asked Chandler, “Do these cameras ever catch Jenna when she’s changing after a shower?” And he says, “Yes. On occasion, they do.” And I said, “Are those recorded events?” And he says, “Yes, but I deleted all those videos. You’ll never find them.” And that’s when I went, “Okay. It defies logic that Chandler would go over to the neighbors and self-report this, if there’s a criminal aspect to this.” However, if you’re a computer guy who’s very familiar with operating systems and know how to put files into very concealable filesystems, either they’re encrypted or they’re so buried in the operating system and the filesystem that you have to dig, and dig, and dig and dig, that a casual computer user, like myself, is probably not going to be able to find these files. Chandler knows computers way more than the average person. He’s a sophisticated user. So, I believe Chandler when he says, “These are deleted, and you’ll never recover them.” I actually believed him.
Paul: [00:17:44] If you have somebody who’s this sophisticated, and they’re giving you consent, they’re turning over these computers, it’s like, “Well, is the hard drive that the material was recorded on even in those computers?”
Dave: [00:17:57] Exactly. Would a smart criminal ever just give me the evidence, or they’d be like, “Ha-ha. They thought that I gave him the computers, but they’re actually tucked away in storage,” or, “They’re part of this computer repair room that I have in the front of the house.” So, I think Chandler was like–
Yeardley: [00:18:14] “Let me throw you a bone and conceal the real evidence.”
Dave: [00:18:19] Correct. However, the cameras USB cords go directly into Chandler’s office, and they have been plugged into this particular desktop tower and this particular laptop, and that’s what was asked for on consent and that’s what Chandler consented to. And I took it as challenge accepted, because I’ve got a guy named Wayne. He’s a forensic computer examiner, and he used to work for the state police. Wayne has been a part of some of my biggest cases and found deleted material right and left. Wayne will love this challenge. Wayne is a savant. You give him a project and he’s like, “Well, I’m going to dig until I find it.” And that day, I contact Wayne and I said, “Hey, I’m going to have a project for you.”
Paul: [00:19:05] As you were talking in describing this room full of computer towers, the hairs on the back of my neck went up going, “Oh, he’s not just peeping on the neighbor. Is he distributing?”
Dave: [00:19:20] Right. From the moment we got in our car and drove out to Chandler’s house, I was thinking there’s going to be a child sex abuse material, child pornography aspect to this case, was my expectation. That was my partner’s expectation as well. Chandler gave us consent to get into his two computers in the office. They’re the ones that were hooked up to the cameras that face Jenna’s bedroom. But to get access to the computer towers in the other room, I would need either probable cause, PC, a search warrant, or Chandler’s consent. And at that point, I don’t know that I have probable cause to say all those other computer towers in the other room should be fair game in a search warrant. I need to confirm or corroborate or deny what Chandler has been telling us. So that night, it was a very odd interview.
[00:20:16] I finally got to sit down with Chandler. His wife was not home at the time. Chandler has been married to his wife for a long time, decades. Chandler’s wife has a sickly mother who lives in our city and Chandler’s wife spends a lot of time at her mother’s house just as a caretaker, which leaves Chandler home alone often, overnight, for days on end, check back in with the wife, back on your own for a week, that kind of thing. So, Chandler kind of has a run of the house by himself. So, when I interviewed Chandler, Chandler’s wife is not even home. And he says, “That’s not surprising. She’s rarely here.” Okay. During this interview, Chandler’s wife shows up.
Yeardley: [00:21:06] So, this interview is at Chandler’s house, not back at your police station?
Dave: [00:21:10] Correct. I’m guessing she was summoned by Chandler at some point after the first contact with our patrol officers and my arrival at the house. My guess is that Chandler was like, “Honey, you might want to come home. Got a little activity at the house.” While I’m interviewing Chandler, it’s a very conversational tone. I’m sitting on a loveseat, Chandler’s on his couch. It was like you’re having coffee in somebody’s living room. But you’re talking about significant stuff. Chandler’s cooperative, Chandler’s wife shows up, and I’m still asking Chandler questions. I let them have a couple of minutes just to, “Hey, honey, what’s going on? Uh, why do we have detectives in our living room?” Let him explain that, sits back down, I go to ask Chandler a question and Chandler’s wife says, “Doesn’t he need an attorney?” I gave the standard speech. “I can’t give legal advice. Chandler is absolutely entitled to an attorney. He was advised of that hours ago and Chandler can make up his mind. You cannot invoke your husband’s right to an attorney.” And Chandler says, “I’ll keep answering your questions.” Once we got past this attorney talk, I start to get a little bit more confrontational with Chandler because I’m like, “Any moment, this interview is probably going to be over. Let’s see what he does when I ask him some real questions.”
Dan: [00:22:41] So, you’re still in his living room at this point?
Dave: [00:22:43] Correct.
Dan: [00:22:44] And his wife is listening to this?
Dave: [00:22:47] No, my partner kind of ran a little bit of interference with the wife. So, I had a little bit of one-on-one time. I said, “Chandler, what’s the deal with these cameras? Do you have an attraction to the neighbor child? Why are your cameras situated in such a location that they look at a window into a girl’s room?” And he says again, “Had this prowler.” I said, “Have you ever caught any footage of a prowler on either of these cameras?” And he says, “Nope. Never have.” “So, do you still hear these noises?” And he’s like, “No, ever since I put the cameras up, haven’t had any issues.” So, I’m like, “For over a year, you’ve had these cameras up, never seen a prowler between your houses?” “Nope.” I said, “Okay.”
Dan: [00:23:38] So, you also mentioned that the area between Jenna’s house and Chandler’s house is cinder rock.
Yeardley: [00:23:45] It’s crunchy, right?
Dan: [00:23:46] It’s crunchy. It’s loud. You couldn’t sneak up on someone. They’d be aware that you’re out there.
Yeardley: [00:23:50] There’s no prowler that’s walking over that cinder rock and you don’t hear them.
Dave: [00:23:54] Right. So, I asked Chandler, “You keep talking about Jenna and her friends in the sexualized behavior. What’s your reaction to that, Chandler?” He goes, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Does it excite you, Chandler?” And he admits. [Yeardley gasps] “I do get excited sometimes when I’m watching that.”
Paul: [00:24:17] Whoa.
Dave: [00:24:18] Yeah. We’re building the foundation here. Chandler tells me that there are some interactions between him and Jenna but it’s like lip reading type stuff.
Yeardley: [00:24:29] What?
Dave: [00:24:29] Right. I was very confused. I remember going, “What are you talking about?” And Chandler says, “There are times where it’s clear that Jenna knows I’m watching her. And so, there’s an interaction, but it’s like miming, where you have to read lips because you can’t hear through these videos.” So, Chandler says that there are times where Jenna will mouth words to him and he has to kind of like translate or be able to ascertain what Jenna is actually saying to him. And so, he would use those recordings also to kind of get another run at lipreading and watch it again.
Yeardley: [00:25:09] No, I call bullshit.
Paul: [00:25:12] So, these interactions that Chandler is saying is happening with this little girl is, he’s in his house, she’s in her house, and now they’re engaging from a distance?
Dave: [00:25:23] Right. I’m rolling my eyes, going, “Come on. I can’t even find the cameras. How would Jenna have known by looking out her window?” And he says he’s an accomplished lipreader. And Chandler says, “I found her mouthing a couple of sentences to me.” And I said, “Well, what sentences?” And I’m not going to be specific about what Chandler claims Jenna said.
Yeardley: [00:25:51] But Chandler is saying they were sexual in nature?
Dave: [00:25:53] Correct. Chandler says Jenna’s words were very clear to him. There is no mistaking what she said to his cameras. Based on what Chandler is claiming this elementary-age schoolgirl is saying, my blood’s boiling, I’m like, “There’s no way on earth.”
Paul: [00:26:16] When you do have young kids that demonstrate that type of sexual awareness, then that’s when it’s like, who’s been abusing them?
Dave: [00:26:30] Right. And there’s just no indication that that’s the case here with Jenna and her family. So, it’s very clear Chandler is in his own world.
Paul: [00:26:41] Just profiling this situation. This is Chandler’s fantasy. When he is watching these cameras, he is fantasizing about an interaction with this young girl and he’s now verbally saying out loud, Jenna wants him to watch. This is where now what he wants to do, he is finding an excuse.
Dave: [00:27:06] Right. Chandler tells me that he cares about Jenna. Chandler admits that there are times where he will be out and about in the neighborhood as school gets out and he just happens to be on the corner that Jenna turns the corner and comes back to her house and Chandler is always there with his dog, walks his dog at the same time every day.
Paul: [00:27:26] Whoa. Yeah, this is stepping up things.
Dave: [00:27:29] To me, I took it as following Jenna home to and from school.
Yeardley: [00:27:33] When he says, “I’m just out walking my dog, but happened to be on the corner every time she comes back from school.”
Dave: [00:27:38] Correct. The hairs on my arm are standing up right now as I’m telling that because I was like, “This could have been so bad.” The fact that Chandler just by, I don’t know, divine intervention or a guilty conscience goes over and self-reports himself, are you kidding me?
Paul: [00:27:54] The Silence of the Lambs. You covet what you see. And here, in this instance, you have Chandler, who, at least up to this point, is passively taking action, but he’s also physically getting out there. And from my perspective, his wheels are turning. I think he’s wanting more than just to watch.
Yeardley: [00:28:16] Right. Because he’s gone from, “I’m just watching her through the window. Now I’m getting out of the house. I’m going to make sure I’m on the corner when she comes home from school.” What do you call those, barriers of offence?
Paul: [00:28:28] Barriers to offense. In some ways him being on the corner is almost like a grooming aspect. He’s making her comfortable to seeing him when she gets home from school.
Dave: [00:28:40] Right. That his presence isn’t alarming, that he’s just out walking his dog. In addition to all these claims about Jenna, Chandler tells me that Jenna had mouthed the words to him that she wanted Chandler to marry her mother. Chandler is claiming that Jenna looks in the camera and says, “Chandler, I want you to marry my mother.” It’s ridiculous.
Yeardley: [00:29:06] I can’t– my head’s popping off.
Paul: [00:29:09] Just for clarification, victim’s mom is married?
Dave: [00:29:13] Victim’s mom is married. The husband is very capable of defending his family. I am familiar with this husband, and he’s not someone I would ever mess with. He’s not a violent person. He’s a papa bear. I think Chandler was strategic when he went to self-report to Emily. Chandler went when the husband was away at work.
Paul: [00:29:40] I have been so perplexed as to why Chandler would front this, “I’ve got cameras watching your daughter.” But now, I’m starting to maybe get some insight here as to why he did that. This idea that the young girl is mouthing to this old man neighbor, “I want you to marry my mom,” from my perspective, when he goes and says, “Hey, I’m seeing some things your daughter’s doing that’s concerning,” he’s trying to look like this very concerning parental figure.
Yeardley: [00:30:17] Like a protector.
Paul: [00:30:17] A protector, with the hope that mom is going to say, “Hey, this guy really is on my side here looking out for my daughter’s best interest.” Almost as if he’s trying to weasel his way into that family.
Yeardley: [00:30:31] It feels like a test. It feels like further grooming. How receptive is the mother to my ultimate plan?
Paul: [00:30:37] Yeah. Is he looking for mom to say, “Stay on top of this, please. I want to know more.”
Yeardley: [00:30:42] Exactly.
Dave: [00:30:43] Right. Chandler also spontaneously admits, “Oh, I also wrote a letter to the family.” And I’m like, “You wrote a letter to Jenna and Emily in the family?” “Yeah, you’ll probably find a letter that I wrote to the family on my laptop computer.” And I said, “Well, when did you write this?” And he’s like, “It was today. I wrote a letter to the family.” “Okay.” This letter was never delivered to Jenna, or Emily or the family at all. It was just on Chandler’s computer.
Yeardley: [00:31:15] Did he tell you what the purpose of the letter was?
Dave: [00:31:17] No. In this interview, I’m already feeling there’s a fantasy aspect. I’m not going to say there’s a mental illness aspect but there’s definitely a fantasy aspect to this where I need to establish that Chandler is rooted in reality because I have to defend the statements in the interview, potentially a trial. I want to check those boxes. I didn’t pick up on any lack of awareness of right and wrong. I didn’t pick up on anything that I felt would be where Chandler’s unable to aid in his own defense. And now, I’m feeling better and better about this case. The totality of circumstances, you happen to have cameras pointed in her bedroom window, you happen to have seen Jenna hanging out with her friends in what Chandler characterizes as a sexualized manner.
Paul: [00:32:07] And he’s admitted at this point that he’s recorded this little girl, but he’s deleted the files.
Dave: [00:32:14] Right, and added, “You won’t find them.” Again, he made some ambitions about recording Jenna while she’s dressing, admits he’s seen her naked on occasion via these cameras, and that those videos are now lost because they’ve been deleted. But I am more confident that I’m going to find child sex abuse material on some device, some hardware somewhere, I’m going to find something. By the time we left Chandler’s house, I tell Chandler, “You’re under arrest.” I’ve got probable cause to arrest Chandler for dozens of charges of invasion of personal privacy. And I’m thinking, “God, I hope that holds him.”
Yeardley: [00:33:15] Dave, you arrest Chandler. What do you end up charging him with?
Dave: [00:33:20] The crime that I have on Chandler is multiple counts based on his admissions of invasion of personal privacy. In my state, at that time, it is A misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to a year in jail or a $6000 plus fine. It is not a felony. It’s never going to get Chandler to prison. So, I’m like, “I can hold Chandler on this until I can get into these two computers that we have consent for.” I dropped Chandler off at the jail the first night, went back over to the office. And Chandler told me the letter I wrote to Emily and her family is on the laptop. He gave me the password. I access that letter that night. I wanted to see what it said.
[00:34:11] The letter was basically, “Hey, this is what I’ve been seeing in the window. I wanted to make you guys aware of this.” And Chandler was writing that out and then decided, “Instead of giving them the letter, I’ll just go over and deliver this verbally.” So, I’m like, “Okay.” I contact Wayne, our computer examiner, and I say, “Hey, I’ve got two devices that I need you to go through as soon as you’re able.” And he says, “Let’s start digging.” So, the following day, Wayne and I start to tackle this case. I’ve got a laptop to search, I’ve got a personal computer, like desk tower to search, and there are a few other items. Chandler let me go through the office where this laptop was connected to these cameras, and I remember finding 35-millimeter film. And I found some floppy disks. I found a couple of flash drives, and I’m like, “Well, hey, can I take this too?” And Chandler says, “Yeah, no problem.”
Paul: [00:35:17] You’re talking film, floppy disks? Is this back in the 90s, early 2000s?
Dave: [00:35:22] This case came to me after 2010.
Paul: [00:35:26] Oh, wow.
Dave: [00:35:27] Yeah. Chandler has discs that you’re like, “I don’t even have a computer that would accept a disc like that.” But then, I’m like, “Oh, I got Wayne.”[laughter]
Dave: [00:35:37] “This is Wayne’s problem.”
Paul: [00:35:39] Also, think about those discs. They weren’t something that he could have bought recently. So, these are things that he’s had for a long time.
Dave: [00:35:49] Yeah, I thought for sure. Here is the archive. I was looking for anything I could get this guy on that had a heavier weight than an A misdemeanor, and I was frustrated. I write up a probable cause affidavit that has to go with my paperwork. And I charged Chandler with 30 counts of invasion of personal privacy. But 20 of Chandler’s charges are dropped the next day at arraignment. And that’s by the city prosecutor who says, “Hey, it gets to be a little bit redundant at this point.” And I said, “He’s going to bail on that. He’s going to bail out.” The reason I hit him with so many charges and I should have charged him with double what I charged him with was because I wanted some insurance that Chandler is going to stay in jail. And the city prosecutor’s office says, “Don’t worry about it. 10 charges is a lot.” Chandler is out the door the next day.
Yeardley: [00:36:47] Oh, my God.
Paul: [00:36:48] No.
Dave: [00:36:49] Part of Chandler’s release agreement is, “You can’t return home.” Chandler has to live at his mother-in-law’s house in a different part of the city. It was like a no contact agreement with my child victim. So, part of the agreement is Chandler can’t go back to his residence. And I’m like, “Well, I’ll take what I can get.” But there is a reason why I initially charged Chandler with 30 counts. I was being conservative. I didn’t expect you to trim my counts by two-thirds. I was pissed, really mad. I thought it was very naive on the city prosecutor’s part to not believe how egregious and exigent this case was.
[00:37:36] But I have these two devices that we seized on consent. Wayne does an exhaustive search of these devices. Wayne works this case for two weeks straight. These two weeks that Wayne was looking at computers and devices yielded nothing about child sex abuse material. It didn’t yield anything that I could gather additional charges other than this misdemeanor. I was really frustrated. I remind you, I seized a couple of rolls of 35-millimeter film. There’s no date on these cans of film, so I have no idea how recent these photos are. I send them off old school like to the photo lab.
Yeardley: [00:38:19] The drugstore?
Dave: [00:38:20] Right. [Yeardley chuckles] I went through our evidence and property folks and said, “Hey, chain of custody wise, this is yours, but I need a return on these photos as soon as you can.” Now, the real investigation starts. I’m dealing with Chandler who’s free on bail. He’s not back at the house, so I have a little bit of a cushion safety-wise, but that’s just if Chandler decides to adhere to this release agreement. Chandler’s probably aware he’s dealing with more than he bargained for when he first knocked on Emily’s door. And who knows what a desperate person who’s never been incarcerated, what they will do if they have even an inkling that there’s more search warrants coming? “Oh shit, I forgot about this on my computer.” We don’t know yet. So, I’m relying on Wayne to really drive this investigation, and Wayne does a great job. Wayne comes in, starts processing devices. Wayne soon finds a series of letters written by Chandler and addressed to Jenna.
Yeardley: [00:39:28] To Jenna, to the girl?
Dave: [00:39:31] Correct.
Yeardley: [00:39:32] Dave, was Jenna ever questioned about any sort of awareness of Chandler?
Dave: [00:39:38] Yeah, within a few days, I had Jenna at a Child Advocacy Center. I want to know what her perception of Chandler is. I want to know if I can corroborate any of these lipreading sessions, interactions with the camera and Jenna, walking home from school, what types of interactions or observations Jenna has made about Chandler. And that interview was nine minutes long, which is on the extremely short side of interviews that I’ve witnessed at our Advocacy Center. When there’s a disclosure, typically, we’re in there 45 minutes, hour, hour and a half, and the child is empowered from moment one, they go into the room with the interviewer. “You are in control here. You can leave this room anytime. You don’t have to talk about things you don’t want to talk about. The only rule is that we talk about things that actually happened.” It’s made very clear to children in those circumstances that, You talk as long as you want to talk and then when you’re done, you let us know and we walk back out.”
[00:40:47] This interview was nine minutes long. Jenna denies any knowledge of the cameras on the side of the house. Jenna denies any interaction, like a lipreading-type session with Chandler. When asked about her perception of Chandler, Jenna says, “I just know he’s like the creepy old guy next door.” We also kind of went down the road with Jenna, “When you have friends over, what kind of things do you do in your bedroom? Are there ever any times where you guys write on each other, have tattoos?” We’re not leading but that’s the gist of the conversation. And Jenna says, “No, what are you talking about?” There’s no indication that any of what Chandler has claimed has ever occurred, that this is all, as Paul says, these are fantasies. This is Chandler’s imagination and wishful thinking operating. It’s not based in reality. It’s not based in any of the actions that Jenna is a part of.
[00:41:49] I also get these photos back within a couple of days, these 35-millimeter photos are developed, and I start going through them. And I realize there are photos of a similarly aged girl to Jenna’s age and it looks kinda like an impromptu photoshoot. In these photos, I find a series of maybe five or six photos that are specific to a particular girl. That girl has a similarly aged friend with her and they’re playing on a bed, and the photos are being taken by someone that’s not the two girls. So, I know there’s three people in the room. The girl who is the major focus of these photos is wearing kind of like a loose-fitting t-shirt and really high-riding shorts. And one photo is very innocent looking like, “Oh, hey, kids are playing. They’re laughing.” The next photo is very zoomed in on the chest area. There’s another picture that’s focused on the crotch area of the same female. Then, there’s another photo that shows the girl pulling up her shirt a little bit, and it reveals just the bottom portion of this girl’s breasts, prepubescent girl, and I’m like, “That is right in line with Jenna.” But it’s not Jenna.
[00:43:06] There’s no timestamp, there’s no date stamp. I can make some assumptions based on apparel, based on the logos, I can make an educated guess about they’re at least this old. I would assume it was probably 15, maybe 20 years prior to our case.
Paul: [00:43:22] So, this girl today–
Dave: [00:43:24] She’s probably in her 30s.
Paul: [00:43:26] Yeah. Okay.
Yeardley: [00:43:27] Do you know where the bedroom is?
Dave: [00:43:29] I don’t. I said, “Well, Chandler’s lived in this house for decades.” I’ve been in Chandler’s house. The photos don’t match up with any room that I’ve seen in Chandler’s house. I go back to victim’s house, and I speak with Emily and I say, “Do you know who lived here before you guys moved in?” And they’re like, “Oh, yeah, there was this family and they had a little girl who’s like an adult now. But they lived here for a long time before that.” And apparently, they were very close with Chandler and his wife. And I’m thinking this is the same house where Jenna and Emily and the family live, is where this photoshoot took place. And I later confirmed that. I find the family that used to live next door to Chandler. I go to meet with that family and it is clear that the allegiance with that family is with Chandler, that Chandler is kind of a grandfatherly figure in this family. I look up some photos of the daughter, who’s now an adult, and I’m looking at her and I say, “Okay, this is the girl from the photos. She’s just an adult now.”
Paul: [00:44:40] Wow. Here you have Chandler, because of the relationship he had established with that family, he had access inside that house to that little girl, and now he’s approaching mom, knocking on the door, saying, “I’ve got some concerns about what I’m seeing with your daughter with the current family that’s living next door.” I think he’s trying to replicate having the same type of access.
Dave: [00:45:05] Exactly.
Yeardley: [00:45:06] Sure, the same kind of grandfatherly relationship that would allow him inside the house, possibly for his fantasies inside Jenna’s bedroom, yes?
Dave: [00:45:15] Yes. When I finally discover this previous family that lived next to Chandler, I went to make contact with the mother of the girl in the photo, with the intention to track down the girl in the photo. When I spoke with the mother and I printed out a picture, not the more racy one, but I printed out a picture and said, “Can you identify this girl?” And she’s like, “That’s my daughter like a long time ago. Where did you get that?” And I said, “Well, I seized this from Chandler’s house. And there’s a couple of other photos that show a little bit more skin on your daughter. I need to contact your daughter because I want to know if anything ever happened.” The mom, she gets it. She’s still protective of Chandler and doesn’t believe that he would ever do anything to a little girl but she understands. “There’s some gravity here. I need to probably put this police officer in touch with my daughter.”
[00:46:17] I play phone tag with his daughter over and over again. When I say phone tag, it’s me calling her leaving messages. Finally, one day, we actually get on the phone together, and this woman says, “I want nothing to do with your investigation. Nothing happened. He’s a good man. I don’t know why you guys are going after him. Don’t ever call me again.” And I respect that. Okay. That lead is now dead. I have to respect that either, A, nothing happened, and I hope for that. Or something did happen and she’s not ready to talk about it or she doesn’t want anything to do with it, I have to respect that. I don’t find any other evidence that there’s other girls that have ever been in Chandler’s life to this degree. So now, my focus is just going to be on Chandler, his devices, and this infatuation with Jenna. But I have these two devices that we seized on consent. I have Wayne looking into those devices and he starts finding letters. Wayne finds letters that are specifically addressed to Jenna. And they are all about Jenna and Jenna’s family and Jenna’s mother. It’s clear that Chandler is infatuated with both Jenna and the mother, Emily.
Yeardley: [00:47:33] It sounds stalkery.
Dave: It’s so stalkery. [Paul laughs] There comes a point where you’re like, “You cannot make the shit up.” One of the letters is a size 14 font. It’s four pages long, addressed to Jenna. There’s another letter that’s three pages long, but it’s size 40 font, like big letters. I was like, “Why would he do this?” And I said, “Oh, he wants to hold these letters up to the window so they’re big enough letters to read–“
Yeardley: [00:48:03] Across the way.
Dave: [00:48:04] Across the way.
Yeardley: [00:48:05] So, Jenna could look out her window and read a letter.
Dave: [00:48:08] Right. The first letter, the one that’s four pages long, is Chandler talking about seeing Jenna in a state of undress, that he’s had a dream since he was a young man about marrying a virgin and being somebody’s first experience. I mean, creepy stuff. He talks in this letter about watching and following Jenna to and from school. One day, he’s sorry that he missed the chance to see her, that just by circumstances he couldn’t get out and walk at the usual time and he’s apologizing to Jenna saying, “Sorry, I missed you.”
Yeardley: [00:48:46] Like, “missed you coming home from school,” kind of thing?
Dave: [00:48:48] Right. After Jenna’s interview, she has no interaction with this guy. Like, “Yeah, I’ve seen him walking his dog around town, but I just assume he’s out walking his dog.” For Chandler, it’s an opportunity to see the girl he’s got a crush on.
Paul: [00:49:02] Oh, absolutely. And he is living a fantasy life with Jenna in his head. And this letter is kind of detailing what he’s thinking, this day-to-day relationship he has with this young girl.
Dave: [00:49:15] Yeah. Chandler in this letter with the big font that I think would be visible from 10, 15 feet away, he laments an opportunity where he keeps wishing that Jenna would just call or contact him in person and they could just talk. He’s just waiting for that moment where they can have an actual interaction together. So, Wayne’s finding more and more letters, and he’s finding them in places that you wouldn’t expect to find files. These files are not in the desktop or “My Documents” folders. These letters are hidden in filesystems that have eight nine levels before you ever reach the folder that contains the letter.
[00:50:01] Wayne finds writings where it’s clear Chandler is gathering all kinds of information about Jenna’s family. Wayne worked tirelessly and found eight to 10 letters that were specific to Jenna. What’s most alarming for me is one of the last documents that Wayne located and it was buried in the filesystem. And this letter is a letter directly to Jenna. And it mentions that he’s starting to be suspicious of her motives in her interactions with him. And again, this is Chandler’s fantasy land. This is not reality of what Jenna’s behavior is. But Chandler says that he’s worried that Jenna is baiting him into kidnapping her.
Yeardley: [00:50:54] Oh, no.
Paul: [00:50:55] This is a dangerous guy. Consider that he is physically going out to the bus stop, he’s putting himself into a position. I use this phrase ‘lure and isolate’, but that’s what predators do. That’s how they minimize risk to themselves. He needs her to be comfortable with him, “Hey, we live right next door to each other, just walk with me,” and she is good with it. He probably was on the verge of getting ready to go physical on this little girl.
Yeardley: [00:51:25] That’s terrifying.
Dave: [00:51:26] Yeah. Chandler himself prevented a tragedy by self-reporting. I had no doubts this was going to escalate to something much more severe. So, armed with this information, I went back to the city prosecutor’s office, and I said, “We need to reconsider our charging strategy here. There was a letter that’s recently written about kidnapping. All I’ve got still is invasion of personal privacy. That 10 counts is not going to suffice, that number has to go up, we need to get more charges.” And the city prosecutor is like, “Okay,” and charged Chandler with an additional 30 counts. So now, we’re up to 40. Still, it’s just a misdemeanor. So, I’m really frustrated. And I’m really frustrated by the lack of teeth in this invasion of personal privacy statute. It turns out that the rest of the nation has too.
Dave: [00:52:44] This case started to make morning shows. This was a big case. And Jenna’s mother, Emily was leading the charge to rectify the gap in this statute, nobody, including myself could understand how recording a child in a state of undress did not make you eligible to become a sex offender, and it wasn’t a felony. That how on earth have we left this hole in our statutes, that that’s not something that makes you eligible for prison time.
[00:53:20] So finally, Wayne starts to find some videos. When I say some, less than five. So now, we can start talking about what did the cameras actually capture though, like the field of view. We get into these videos, and I go, “These cameras don’t capture any of the common area other than the area between the camera and right into the window frame of Jenna’s bedroom.” It’s focused specifically on this window. I’m like, “Oh, okay, that’s clearly from these two cameras, but it’s nighttime.” And they’re not night vision cameras. It’s just dark.
[00:54:00] One of the videos, you can see that Jenna probably has a flashlight or something because you see this kind of like ball of light going around the room. There were three or four videos like that. I found nothing, exactly what Chandler said, “You’re not going to find any of these videos.” Well, shit. When we serve the search warrant, we went through everything. I was like, “Nothing gets overlooked here.” I find nothing in the search warrant. I couldn’t believe that I was still stuck with the same one charge, which is invasion of personal privacy, tons of counts of it. But I’m like, “This guy is going to get a few months in our municipal jail, and he’s going to walk.”
[00:54:45] Before the resolution of this case, Chandler was not offered bail initially. There were some arguments over that in court about whether or not that was constitutional on a misdemeanor charge. It’s not like a murder. People are entitled to bail, and bail was initially set at zero. There was some legal wrangling, all of a sudden, there’s bail again. And Chandler was bailed out. Chandler has only spent a couple of weeks in custody. And the city prosecutor keeps asking me, “Tell me you got something that we can ship this over to the district court that we can get a felony.” And I said, “I don’t have anything, man. I promise you, I’m trying.” We just never could get there.
[00:55:27] You can imagine what Emily and her husband, I mean, the whole community, there was outrage at this. And Emily did an amazing job. When you talk about somebody with a purpose, and a focus, Emily made it her life’s mission to fix this problem with the statute. And Emily successfully got the law changed. The biggest victory I can take out of this is that, A, Chandler never got his hands on Jenna. B, Emily got the law changed. So, if we have another Chandler out there, that there’s actually some teeth to the law, and they’ll be held more accountable than Chandler ever was.
[00:56:15] Chandler, as a part of his plea agreement, agreed to a matter of a few months in jail, which he served. Chandler also agreed to move out of our city to a different county. And whether or not that is lawful or constitutional, like, “Hey, you can live here but you can’t live in this county.” But he agreed to it. Chandler moved with his wife. They moved out of their house. I don’t know what Chandler is up to today currently. However, I remember when I found out where Chandler was moving, I made a phone call to that police agency. And I said, “By the way, here’s who you’re getting,” And they said, “Thank you very much.”
Yeardley: [00:56:57] Because he didn’t have to register as a sex offender.
Dave: [00:56:59] Correct. He’s got a misdemeanor conviction on his record with a few months’ time served in jail and extremely unsatisfying resolution to this case.
Paul: [00:57:10] This was an interrupted kidnap rape, possible homicide.
Dave: [00:57:14] No doubt in your mind.
Paul: [00:57:15] No doubt at all.
Yeardley: [00:57:18] That is terrifying.
Dave: [00:57:20] Kudos to Emily. It’s not easy to change laws. Emily did that.
Yeardley: [00:57:26] I just always really appreciate your doggedness, like you just wouldn’t let it go. Like, “Goddamn, there’s got to be a way.” And ultimately, real change was made. And I just love you, Dave.
Dave: [00:57:44] I love you too.
Dan: [00:57:46] Good job, Dave.
Paul: [00:57:47] Yeah, thanks, Dave.
Dave: [00:57:49] You’re welcome.[Small Town Dicks theme playing]
Yeardley: [00:57:59] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Logan Heftel, Soren Begin, 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: [00:59:12] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [00:59:18] -in search of the finest,-
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Dave: [00:59:25] So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley: [00:59:27] Nobody’s better than you.
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