EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE OJJDP
UNTIL WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2001 AT 2:00 P.M. EDT 202/307-0703
ATTORNEY GENERAL HONORS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
FOR EFFORTS TO HELP MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Three law enforcement officers were honored today by Attorney General John Ashcroft for investigating a child pornography ring based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. U.S. Postal Inspectors David Dirmeyer and Rey J. Santiago and Detective Liz Eagan of the Tulsa Police Department received the Officer of the Year Award for Missing and Exploited Children Investigations. Their efforts led to the rescue of two children who had been repeatedly sexually abused by their parents and to the arrest and conviction of seven molesters who participated in the child pornography ring.
“We first turn to law enforcement when a child is at risk or is missing,” said Attorney General Ashcroft. “And although law enforcement is the first line of defense, we also know that protecting children from harm requires a partnership that transcends occupation and jurisdiction.”
The Officer of the Year award presentation was a part of the 18th annual National Missing Children’s Day ceremony, which also honored 6 other law enforcement officers for their outstanding efforts in recovering and assisting abducted and abused children. OJJDP and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) selected the nine 2001 honorees from over 40 nominations received. A list of the honorees and information about their cases is attached.
The Attorney General also presented Kaiya Anderson, a middle school student from Sartell, Minnesota, the First Place Award in the 2nd Annual Missing Children’s Day Art Contest. Her work, which was selected from nearly 500 submissions nationwide, was displayed at the ceremony and will be featured in missing children-related publications and conferences.
Performing at the ceremony for the 7th year was the Bells of Love, a children’s musical group from Syracuse, New York. The group was originally formed in response to the 1993 abduction and murder of Sara Wood, a 12-year-old girl from upstate New York.
“Kaiya Anderson and the Bells of Love show how necessary personal involvement and commitment are in keeping children safe,” said John J. Wilson, Acting Administrator of the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). “This involvement can be in the form of the outstanding law enforcement work we recognize today, or it can be through raising public awareness about missing and exploited children.”
Today’s ceremony also marked the three-year anniversary of the publication, When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, written by parents who have experienced the trauma of a missing child. The guide provides critical information for families to use in working with law enforcement to find a missing child. To date, OJJDP has distributed over 65,000 copies of the guide, including one to each law enforcement agency and public library in the nation. Last year OJJDP released the Spanish translation of the guide (Cuando su Nińo Desaparece: Una Guía Para la Supervivencia de la Familia).
OJJDP has a number of publications concerning missing and exploited children available through the OJJDP Web site at www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org and from OJJDP’s Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is 1-800/638-8736.
Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.
Additional information about NCMEC is available through its toll-free number, 1-800/843-5678 and its Website at www.missingkids.com.
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After hours, contact: Mary Louise Embrey, 202/353-5229 (cell)
Postal Inspector David Dirmeyer
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Postal Inspector Rey J. Santiago
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Detective Liz Eagan
Tulsa Police Department
Through an undercover operation in 1999, U.S. Postal Inspector David Dirmeyer came into contact with an Oklahoma man, who sent him a videotape depicting the sexual abuse of a child. In return, the suspect asked for a videotape to be sent to him at a post office box. Following a successful delivery to the post office box and moving surveillance to the suspect’s residence, a Federal search warrant was executed. After investigators seized a large collection of child pornography, the suspect confessed. The investigators were then directed to the home where the suspect claimed much of the child pornography was produced. Inspector Rey Santiago and Detective Liz Eagan obtained a search warrant for the residence where they identified the child depicted in the original videotape and her 9-year-old brother. From the search, Inspector Santiago and Detective Eagan seized videotapes depicting the parents and other unidentified men sexual abusing the two children, and other sexually explicit material involving children. The parents were arrested and the children were taken into protective custody. After viewing the confiscated material, Inspector Santiago and Detective Eagan were able to identify the other molesters. Search warrants were executed and four more child molesters and pornographers were taken into custody. The investigation of Detective Eagan and Postal Inspectors Dirmeyer and Santiago led to the end of abuse for the two children and to the conviction of the seven offenders.
Detective Edward J. Kopacki, Jr.
Henrico County Division of Police
Special Agent Zachary T. Lowe, Jr.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Postal Inspector Stephan P. Lear
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
On October 13, 2000, the FBI received a tip from an informant that someone had sent an America Online Instant Message soliciting sex with a twelve-year-old boy in exchange for money. Through an administrative subpoena, Special Agent Lowe, who led the investigation, had America Online provide subscriber information relating to the screen name in question. Inspector Stephan Lear then assumed the informant’s online identity and continued to communicate via email with the two suspects. During the course of the e-mail exchanges, one suspect sent Inspector Lear an image of the boy who was to be delivered at the rendezvous discussed in the e-mails. Detective Edward Kopacki, after receiving the image and conducting an investigation, was able to identify the victim as a twelve-year-old boy who lived next door to the first suspect. Five days after the FBI was contacted by the informant, the suspect was arrested as he walked the boy to his car to deliver him to another man. One of the suspects had planned to take photographs of the boy having sex with the man. The other suspect was also arrested after he admitted his involvement in the sexual abuse and exploitation of the child. The investigation of Special Agent Lowe, Detective Kopacki, and Inspector Lear successfully ended the repeated sexual abuse of the twelve-year-old boy and brought two child sex offenders to justice. As a result of this investigation, there is a possibility of six more arrests of child sex offenders.
Special Agent Jeffrey C. Fortier
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
On March 6, 2000, a ten-year old female was reported kidnaped from her family’s driveway. Special Agent Jeff Fortier led an investigation by coordinating over 100 law enforcement agents and support staff. First, a composite drawing of the suspect and his vehicle was released to local, state, and national media. Special Agent Fortier then oversaw the establishment of additional phone links to receive the hundreds of leads that poured into the small community where the girl resided. He also requested information management members to configure a program for recording and tracking each lead and its result. Three days after her abduction and after being sexually assaulted, the victim was released. Agents were then assigned to search specific neighborhoods to discover where the victim had been held hostage. Eventually, pressure from media attention, law enforcement, and the public resulted in the abductor admitting himself to a mental health facility where he was arrested. Special Agent Fortier’s dedication and effective coordination led to the offender’s sentence of life in prison without parole.
Detective Sergeant Stanley Molnar
New Jersey State Police
West Trenton, New Jersey
On May 29, 2000, a mother went to pick up her nine-month old baby from her babysitter’s home. Upon her arrival, the mother found the baby and all of the babysitter’s belongings gone. The mother reported her missing child to the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, which launched an investigation with help from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Detective Sergeant Molnar was advised that an unexplained New Jersey telephone number had been found in the babysitter’s home. After running a check on the telephone number, Detective Sergeant Molnar proceeded to a truck stop in New Jersey to which the number was listed. Although he did not find the abductor of the child there, he later received additional information as to the possible location of the abductor in another New Jersey location. Detective Sergeant Molnar then proceeded to the location, but the abductor had left with the child shortly before his arrival. Realizing a connection, Detective Sergeant Molnar proceeded back to the truck stop in an effort to locate the abductor. While driving, Detective Sergeant Molnar came across a disabled vehicle and immediately pulled over. He positively identified the driver as the abductor and placed her under arrest. Detective Sergeant Molnar’s astuteness and swift action led to the reunion of the unharmed baby with her mother.
Special Agent Peter Orchard
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Buffalo, New York
On September 3, 1999, the New York State Family Court awarded temporary custody of eleven year-old Tina, six year-old Lisa, and four year-old Mickey to the children’s grandmother due to charges of the biological mother’s neglect and general unsuitability. In August 1999, the mother and her boyfriend picked up the three children for a scheduled visitation. The children were never returned. The Buffalo City Court then issued an arrest warrant for the mother and her boyfriend. While coordinating an investigation, Special Agent Peter Orchard discovered the children had been removed from the New York area and taken to New Jersey. A Federal warrant was then issued for both the mother and her boyfriend. In November, Special Agent Orchard received information that the boyfriend had been arrested in Georgia for traffic violations. From an interview with the boyfriend, Special Agent Orchard discovered that the children, their mother, and their uncle were residing in Georgia. The boyfriend also indicated that the uncle was physically and sexually abusive to the children. After the boyfriend gave a clue as to the abductors’ possible residence and a description of their vehicle, FBI agents were able to locate and arrest the mother and uncle. Special Agent Orchard’s thorough interstate investigation led to the successful return of the children to their grandmother.