Tonight I watched the latest episode of the NBC Dateline popular series "To Catch a Predator". Since 2004 over 200 men have been arrested responding to decoy children who chat online and over the phone with unsuspecting men. NBC pays a group called Perverted-Justice to assist with these online sting operations. What never ceases to amaze me is that men still respond and prey on these children even after all the publicity this has garnered. In one case the same guy appeared on two shows when he repeated his crime after bonding out of jail and then re-offending a few months later.
In this latest installment the show moved to Murphy Texas where for the first time the show and the police received a lot of heat for the latest sting. In the latest sting they snared Assistant District Attorney Louis “Bill” Conradt Jr.who upon faced with arrest shot himself in the head and died. The family of the Assistant D.A. was upset because they felt he was set up and the film crews combined with the sting caused him to kill himself. The townspeople were upset because a home in a residential neighborhood was used in the sting in which 25 men were ultimately arrested. The residents felt that the sting put the rest of the neighborhood at risk. Many had children and the street had one sex offender after another driving into the neighborhood at a time to meet their prey. Murphy residents also feared people would get the wrong idea about their town and property values would be affected.
The Shows producers claim this is the first time neighbors expressed a problem with the stings in residential neighborhoods. Their were protests at city hall and counter protests supporting the police chief. In the middle of the sting a City Councilor showed up with neighbors to protest in front of the house while the sting operation was still going on. They were given an explanation and asked to leave so the operation could continue and they agreed.
As I stated in an earlier blog we recently opened our Computer Forensics Lab which will make a big difference in cases like these. Confiscated computers and gathering electronic data is essential in these and other computer related cases. What do you think? I would like to see comments about this show and the concerns of the residents of Murphy Texas.
I believe this show has done a lot of good. Local arrests of Online predators like these would never garner the publicity this show has garnered. Along with that publicity comes the chance that at least the numbers of online predators are less than they would be other wise. Yes there are still those that will offend anyway and we need to do our best to catch them. However, when you watch these shows it has to make some people think twice. Leave your comments on this story. Do you think this type of sting is good, but maybe not in my backyard? Do you think this lures men who may not have done this other wise? Would you loan your home for a sting like this or even not mind if another home in your neighborhood was used?
Some clips of the shows are located here if you have not seen them.
Go here to read transcripts of chats suspects had with decoys (note some contain obscene language)
Go here for information on keeping your kids safe on the Internet.
New Mexico Sex Offender Informaton Web Site