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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
October 17, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Division of Criminal Justice Obtains Indictment of MD Man on Charges of Using Internet to Lure 14 Year-old Juvenile into Sexual Encounter - Undercover Probe by State Investigators Targeted Internet Chat Rooms Frequented by Sexual Predators

>> Read Related Indictment (160K PDF) pdf plug-in

Trenton - Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy announced that the Computer Analysis & Technology Unit has obtained a State Grand Jury indictment which charges a 27 year-old Maryland man with attempting to engage a 14 year-old juvenile in a sexual encounter and with transmitting child pornographic images via the Internet. The 14 year-old juvenile was, in reality, an undercover State Investigator assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice State - Computer Analysis & Technology Unit.

According to Director McKoy, Walter Edward Whetzer, 27, Cumberland, MD, was charged in a four-count State Grand Jury indictment with endangering the welfare of a child - distribution of child pornography and three counts of attempted endangering the welfare of a child. Whetzer faces more than 20 years in state prison and fines exceeding $325,000 upon conviction. Whetzer was arrested by State Investigators assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Computer Analysis and Technology Unit and Maryland State Police on July 12, 2004 at his Cumberland residence. At the time of Whetzer’s arrest, a home computer was confiscated by the Division of Criminal Justice. A forensic review of the computer uncovered more than 200 images of child pornography.

The indictment alleges that from April 7 through July 12, 2004, an undercover State Investigator, posing as a 14 year-old male, conducted an online investigation of an Internet chat room known to be frequented by potential pedophiles and devoted to sexually explicit conversations. It is alleged that Whetzer, using the screen name “fasteddie2321502,” contacted the undercover State Investigator and engaged the purported juvenile in sexually explicit conversations.

In addition to engaging the undercover State Investigator in sexually explicit conversations, it is alleged that Whetzer sent sexually explicit photographs of children engaged in sexual acts to the undercover State Investigator. It is also charged that Whetzer offered to pay to obtain stained underwear, encouraged the juvenile to be photographed in the nude, and suggested that lewd acts be performed live over the Internet via a Web Camera.

State investigators are continuing to investigate if Whetzer may have attempted to contact and/or solicit sexual encounters with other juveniles. The Division of Criminal Justice - Computer Analysis & Technology Unit is seeking additional information related to Whetzer’s potential on-line communications.

The indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Maria Mariani Sypek on Oct. 13. Whetzer will be ordered to appear in Mercer County Superior Court for arraignment and bail.

The investigation was coordinated by State Investigator Rosario Zito assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Computer Analysis & Technology Unit. Additional investigative assistance was provided by the Maryland State Police. Deputy Attorney General Mark Murtha present the case to the State Grand Jury.

Criminal Justice Director McKoy noted that the Division of Criminal Justice - Computer Analysis & Technology Unit employs a team of specially-trained state investigators who go on-line to track, investigate, arrest, and prosecute individuals who use technology and computer systems to commit criminal acts in New Jersey. As part of their continuing investigative responsibilities, undercover state investigators patrol various chat rooms where potential sexual predators seek to engage juveniles in conversation with the goal of ultimately luring a targeted juvenile into a sexual encounter.

Director McKoy noted that the Computer Analysis & Technology Unit encourages parents to carefully monitor on-line conversations and to question children about any improper E-Mails, instant messages, or other communications received via the Internet. Children should never provide personal information such as name, address, phone number and school information to unknown individuals while communicating on-line.

If you suspect improper or suspicious contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet, contact the Division of Criminal Justice - Computer Analysis & Technology Unit “Tip Line” at 1-800-396-2310 or log-on to the Division of Criminal Justice Web Page at www.njdcj.org.

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