Child Predators On The Web

Friday, November 17th 2006, 2:12 pm
By: News On 6

The growing problem of online predators has parents and police on edge.

After Andi Brewer was kidnapped and killed in 1999, her mother never thought another of her daughters could be targeted.

Rebecca DeMauro knows what detectives know, that child predators can strike anywhere on the Web.

News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson has more.

"It's becoming more and more common, and that's a problem,” said Tulsa Cybercrime detective Sgt. Tim Stadler.

"And they're preying on children, and it has to stop!" DeMauro said.

Rebecca DeMauro had a first hand encounter with an online predator. A stranger found her 10 year old daughter's age and online identity from the girl's Xanga site.

"And I had it signed up on Xanga where anytime they posted anything or anytime someone posted, it would be e-mailed to me, so I could keep track if anyone was bothering them, or just whatever." Despite DeMauro's precautions, the stranger started messaging the girl.

Mom stepped in just in time to intercept a live camera feed that showed the man in the middle of an inappropriate act. She calls what happened next horrifying.

"There were pictures I saw on the desk, and I'm like, this is pornography, this is not good. And then he started lifting them up and they were pictures of her face, and at that point, I called 911."

DeMauro's daughters told her to save what was happening on the computer by pushing the "Print Screen" button on the keyboard. Those screen shots helped point investigators in the right direction.

Their investigation lead them to Jerry Martin, a felon who's spent time in jail for indecent exposure. Police say a search of his home uncovered handcuffs, a ski mask, and little girls' underwear.

"And I know kids want to grow up, have fun, and do neat things on the computer, but boy it sure is a scary world out in cyberspace," said DeMauro.

DeMauro deactivated her daughter's Xanga account, and says the Internet is no place for a 10 year old.

Jerry Martin was supposed to be in court Friday, but his hearing was delayed. He's charged with indecent exposure, and attemping lewd acts with a minor.