Case Studies

Current as of 5/25/17 - Updates will occur periodically


Behind Closed Doors: A Truly Evil Person
Stacy Burke, Kristen Sharpe
 This case study will take you behind the scenes of the investigation and prosecution of a Misty Rae Hopkins, who with her husband, continuously abused, manipulated, silenced, and isolated their five biological children for years. The presenters will explain how the couple hid behind their religion and taught the children how to behave in a way that protected their unimaginable secret, and did so successfully for 14 years. This complex delayed disclosure case included conflict amongst the four siblings who came forward, including convincing one brother to testify who carried such shame he had no desire to proceed with prosecution. The presenters will discuss Hopkins’ attempt to blame her husband for his constant teachings of submission and obedience to him as the leader of the Church and the house, and a defense of a mental breakdown. Lastly, they will discuss how they overcame these defenses and obtained a conviction with five life sentences for Hopkins.
See this link: 
Misty Rae Hopkins


Case Studies: How Standardization of Registration Information Dramatically Improves Investigation Capabilities
Joey Gauthier
This presentation will leverage case studies to illustrate the importance of advanced data collection standards in conducting timely and effective investigations. The presenters will look at several investigative case studies, and discuss how exceeding the minimum statutory data collection requirements helped these agencies conduct successful investigations. We will discuss the importance of having a plan in place for data retrieval, understanding what data is available, how to extract it, and how many people in your agency should be trained in that role. This workshop is recommended for supervisors, investigators, prosecutors, probation, parole and anyone that handles sex offender registration.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC


Finding Tara: The Race to Save a Girl and Catch a Predator
Francey Hakes
This presentation will take attendees behind the scenes of the dramatic worldwide search for one little girl after pornographic pictures of her being threatened at knife point surfaced half a world away in New Zealand. The clear link between collecting child pornography and hands-on offending will be explored in two federal case examples. Attendees will learn about the focus required to search for victims appearing in the images of child sexual abuse and see clear evidence of what drives child sex offenders to abuse children and how some are so desperate to abuse children they will travel thousands of miles to do so. The presenter will offer insight into the minds of these predators and display some of their own words, photos, and the evidence that brought them down.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, FI, CPS, CAC 
See this link: Finding Tara


Geronimo Aguilar: The Grooming of a Congregation (Part 1 & 2)
Eric Nickols, Kerri O’Brien, Mike Weber
Geronimo Aguilar was a youth minister at a small church in Fort Worth, Texas in the late 90s. During this time he lived with a family that included two sisters whom he groomed and molested. Aguilar later moved to Richmond, VA where he built the fastest growing church in America, according to one religious publication. His sexual abuse continued openly, against an underage girl and adult female members of the congregation. In this case study, the presenters will discuss the failure of police agencies, fellow clergy and members of his congregation to step forward and stop the abuse. Eventually a Richmond reporter broke the story, which led to the re-opening of the investigation and a successful prosecution for the Texas offenses, then almost 20 years old. The presenters will discuss the extensive investigation and long road to justice for not only the Texas victims, but for the congregation that he groomed and victimized in Richmond, VA.
Target Audience: 
LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC

See this link: Geronimo Aguilar


Hiding Abuse Behind Mental Illness: The Prosecution of Randy John Valles
Abigail Hill, Ashley Keil
This case study will take you in the world of the Valles boys, a world shaped by their diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and sexual abuse by their father. Randy John Valles sexually abused his two autistic sons hoping that he could hide his crimes behind their mental illnesses. The limited communicative ability of the both boys made the investigation and prosecution of this case unique and problematic. Issues including medication history, multiple forensic interviews and immunity agreements will be addressed. The presenters will discuss how prosecutors, psychiatrists, therapists and law enforcement worked together to overcome the communication impairments of the victims to secure a conviction for a man who abused the most vulnerable in our society.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC


Hiding in Plain Sight: The Steven Sherwood investigation
Pedro Arroyo, Mary Nguyen, Brent Pucci
This case study will take you behind the scene of the five-month investigation into the sexual abuse perpetrated by Steven Sherwood on multiple victims. An email sent to a detective turned into the largest child molestation case in Solano County history. Sherwood, a handyman by trade with access to vacant homes in the Fairfield, California area, used his bilingual skills and personality to insert himself into the homes and lives of undocumented Mexican nationals. Sherwood gained the trust of the parents while grooming their children ages five to 15 before sexually abusing them. The presenters will guide you through the many hurdles encountered during the investigation and prosecution of the case. Among the issues they will discuss are the difficult task of gaining the trust of the families; the multi-agency coordination between State and Federal agencies to obtain Visas and return victims to the United States for their testimony; trial complications; legal issues, and the problems encountered with having eleven child-victims testify at trial.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC
See this link: 
Steven Sherwood


Inside the Mack Mansion: The United States v. Jeremy Mack
Kelly Liberti
This case study will show how a local drug search warrant led to the discovery of large scale sex trafficking ring being run out of a house known as the "Mack Mansion" in Ohio. The presentation details the investigation, prosecution and trail of Jeremy Mack and his co-conspirator Ashely Onysko. It will show how young girls and women fell victim to Mack, how he controlled and influenced them, the dense campaign he ran from jail, and the involvement of his entire family in his criminal enterprise. The presentation will cover Mack's obstruction and how it led to his attorney's being removed from the case. Focus will be on the victims and how the coordinated efforts of local, county, state and federal officials led to Mack receiving a guilty verdict and four life sentences.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC
See this link: Jeremy Mack


Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse: The Monster Within
Susie Striegler, Ann Marie Willoughby
This presentation details the case study of "Kelly." Kelly was abused by a family member beginning at age six. This abuse lasted until she ran away at age 17. This presentation will discuss Kelly's struggle with familial abuse from her father and how the abuse was able to continue for over a decade because of fear, deceit, shame, denial and retribution. Bringing awareness and recognition to the signs of abuse within a family is discussed in this presentation as is techniques used to manipulate and "groom" victims of all ages. Secondary victimization is often associated with familial abuse. This type of abuse is also discussed. Finally, a road map describing how Kelly survived the abuse from her father and later became a victim advocate and devoted her life to helping others to overcome and survive a life of sexual abuse by a trusted family member.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC


The James McCurdy Investigation: Adoption Champion to Sexual Predator
Suzanne Owens, Mary Howell Sirna
This case study will detail the investigation and successful prosecution of James McCurdy for multiple counts of child sexual abuse. Prior to being convicted, McCurdy worked as a school bus driver, was a Boy Scout leader and foster parent, and unsuccessfully ran for the local school board. In addition to his employment involving children, McCurdy taught adoption classes, was named “Adoption Champion” for the Ames area, and was the adoptive father of three boys. This presentation will detail how McCurdy’s years of grooming, and sexual abuse of children, came to light only when a young victim came forward to express his concern over other children’s’ victimization. It will detail the complex investigation that was undertaken, and the multi-disciplinary approach involving: law enforcement, DHS, advocacy, forensic interviewers and prosecution that ultimately led to this sexual predator’s demise. The presenters will also share investigative techniques, pre-trial motions and trial strategy.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, FI, CPS


Jacob Wetterling: A Quarter Century Search for Jacob, Justice, and Answers
Shane Ball, Chris Boeckers, Patty Wetterling
This presentation details the 27-year missing person investigation of 11 year-old Jacob Wetterling. On a Sunday night in 1989, Jacob was abducted by an armed masked stranger who confronted him, his younger brother and a friend while they were riding bicycles near his home in St. Joseph, MN. For nearly three decades following the crime, his parents Patty and Jerry Wetterling courageously advocated on behalf of Jacob, other missing children nationwide, and their families. The presenters will discuss Jacob’s abduction, previous assaults against boys in nearby communities, and, ultimately, the re-identification of Danny Heinrich as the primary suspect in these crimes. Heinrich was arrested in 2015 on federal child pornography charges and later agreed to a “global resolution" plea deal which resulted in the recovery of Jacob’s remains, admissions from Heinrich regarding his crimes, and a Federal prison sentence. The presenters will also discuss challenges and lessons learned from the long-term investigation and prosecution.
Target Audience: All Attendees
See this link: 
Jacob Wetterling


Jean Marston: Female Incest Offender 
Corrine Moulton, Nancy Oglesby
This case study will take you through the investigation and prosecution of Jean Marston, a female sex offender and adopted mother of the victim. The victim entered the social services system because his biological parents lost custody of him and his four siblings. This caused the children to be separated and placed in foster care. The victim was adopted into an upper middle class family by the offender and her husband. This presentation will describe Marston’s grooming and bribery of the victim to keep silent about the sexual abuse. This included lack of parental supervision, a continuous flow of gifts, and producing, selling, and using drugs. After years of being sexually abused, he became involved in the juvenile court system and lacked respect for authority. He disclosed the abuse and then recanted and had one jurisdiction refuse to prosecute his case. The presenters will discuss the unique challenges of dealing with a male teen incest victim and how an extensive investigation led to a successful prosecution despite the obstacles presented.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, VA, Therapist, CPS, CAC


Karl Barnes: Prosecuting the New-Age Pedophile (Part 1 & 2)
Tony Godwin, Mark Sims, Brandie Wade
This case study details the investigation and prosecution of a diagnosed pedophile, who began abusing children at the age of seven and continued until he was sentenced to 99 years in prison at age 26. Karl Barnes sexually assaulted an 8-year-old boy who he photographed and videotaped, then shared those images of online. The presenters will cover how a thorough forensic interview pointed detectives to the evidence they needed to collect. Included will be a discussion on the noncustodial and custodial interviews of the defendant, how to overcome possible suppression issues, the search of the defendant's electronics and how to present those findings to a jury. The presenters will discuss how the defendant’s “suicide note” led to additional victims, and how to present victims who do not remember their abuse. Lastly, the presenters will discuss juvenile probation records, and how they can be a wealth of information.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, FI, CAC


Kenneth Stokes: Web Master and Child Molester
James Holdman
This case study details the investigation of Kenneth Stokes, a registered sex offender living in the Philippines, who produced and distributed large amounts of child pornography all over the world and sexually abused children daily. The presenter will discuss his initial contact with Stokes through a Craigslist ad and the chats that set the hook on an evil monster. What followed was distribution of child porn to Missouri and a six-month online conversation that led to Stokes inviting the presenter, in an undercover capacity, to his highly-secured compound on Cebu Island, Philippines. The case study will discuss the coordination with numerous agencies, both in the United States as well as other countries. Lastly, the presenter will discuss deportation versus extradition, evidence collection in foreign countries and the additional charges filed in Missouri that led to a 120-year sentence for Stokes who admitted to sexually abusing children for almost 60 years.
Target Audience: 
LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC

See this link: 
Kenneth Strokes


Kenwaniee Tate: Child Sex Trafficking Investigation
Kelly Harrison
This case study will discuss the investigation of Kenwaniee Tate, who operated an online based sex trafficking enterprise primarily in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tate forced two juvenile females and at least two adult females to engage in commercial sex for his sole profit. He was a previously federally convicted sex trafficker and state convicted sex offender, who was taught at a young age by his own family members how to "pimp and control little girls". Tate maintained control of all aspects of his victims' lives using specific rules, and he enforced those rules through violence, threats of violence, and mental abuse. The presenter will discuss how investigators initially learned of Tate's activities, how they overcame difficulties with victims and victims' family members, and the investigative techniques used to build a case for successful prosecution. The attendees will see footage from Tate's ultimate confession, offering a glimpse into the mind of a lifetime sexual predator. Tate was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $42,000 in victim restitution.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole
See this link:
 Kenwaniee Tate


On the Road Again: A Truck Driver’s Sexual Abuse and Dominance Over his Daughter
Crystal Levonius, Geeta Singletary
This case study details the prosecution of Lawrence Parker, Jr., a truck driver who took his daughter on the road with him and invited her to join him in the BDSM lifestyle. The presenter will discuss what the BDSM lifestyle looks like, types of grooming typically used, and trying a case in which the victim has severe mental health issues, including suicidal ideations. Included in the workshop will be a practical discussion regarding the admissibility of a confession when Miranda warnings are not given, jurisdictional considerations, and how to get your victim through trial without doing more damage than good.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, VA, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC
See this link:
 Lawrence Parker 


Operation Good Samaritan: A Twisted Pimp Ransoms the World of Addiction (Part 1 & 2)
Michael Barker, Bethany Biesenthal, Carrie Landau, Jennie Levin
This case study will examine the crimes of McKenzie Carson, who from a young age exploited those around him for his sexual pleasure. As an adult, Carson realized that widespread heroin addiction provided him with an endless supply of sexual victims. He kidnapped, held victims drugged and tied, beat, raped, and sold his victims to other pimps. For years Carson terrorized the drug addicted populous of Chicagoland. This case study will examine Carson's elaborate use of cell phones, online advertisement, the withholding heroin as a form of coercion in an effort to satisfy 18 USC 1591, and the difficult decision to offer immunity to his coconspirators (recruiters of juvenile victims) in order to secure a stiff sentence. In this workshop one of Carson's victims will be invited to help attendees examine the experience of a drug-addicted victim, adding vital perspective to the considerations of investigators of human trafficking, nationwide.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC
See this link: 
McKenzie Carson


Operation Millstone: Creating and Maintaining a Successful Ongoing Undercover Chat Operation with Limited Manpower and Resources
Jared Browne, Jason Randall
This presentation will cover lessons learned and best practices in creating and maintaining a successful ongoing undercover chat operation within the task force environment and with limited manpower and resources. In March of 2016, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) (a 4-man office) initiated Operation Millstone in partnership with the local Special Victims Unit (SVU) task force. In its first year, this operation led to the felony arrests of almost 60 child predators and was accomplished with only one full time undercover chatter, one part time chatter, and a few who did one or two chat cases. Local SVU detectives served as the state case agents, allowing the full-time chatter to focus on the chatting and running the operation. This presentation will discuss the lessons learned, include best devices to use for chatting, ways to acquire them, educating your prosecutors, and the most effective takedown methods, ruses, and interview techniques.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole
See this link: Operation Millstone


Operation Swift Traveler: Philippines Webcam and Child Sex Trafficking 
Steven Grocki, Jeffrey Yesensky

This case study will examine a joint investigation between FBI and HSI, that involved over a hundred individuals in the Philippines involved in the sale of images, videos, and live-streamed sexual abuse of children, as well as in-person meetings to abuse minors in the Philippines. Subjects from across the world purchased this illicit material from the Philippine subjects. This presentation will discuss Webcam CST, a growing phenomenon in the Philippines, and the monumental task of coordination in these large-scale investigations that involve multiple domestic and international law enforcement, prosecutorial, and liaison agencies. Case strategy, as well as lessons learned by law enforcement and prosecutors will be discussed. The presenters will discuss legal considerations in extraterritorial cases like Operation Swift Traveler.
Target Audience: All attendees
See this link: Swift Traveler
 


Phillip Bruinsma: “I Didn’t Marry You for Love”
Jeanne Parker
This case study will walk you through how an offender developed relationships with women to have access to their children and how he hid in plain sight while he molested, assaulted and stole countless victims’ innocence for more than 30 years. The presentation will walk you through how an offender can manipulate a criminal justice system and how the resources of ICAC’s along with various partnerships with multiple agencies worked together put an end to Bruinsma’s career of traumatizing and victimizing children. The presenter will detail how Bruinsma avoided detection, manipulated victims and used various forms of technology to produce and disseminate child pornography. Included in the presentation will be how to reach out to partner agencies including federal agencies, state agencies, NCMEC and CAC’s to collect, investigate and document evidence.
Target Audience: All Attendees
See this link: Phillip Bruinsma


Predators on the Dark Net (Part 1 & 2)
Joe Sullivan
Technology both assists and inhibits law enforcement efforts to police child exploitation on the Internet. Investment in training officers to understand and utilize new technologies is vital, however, of equal importance is the necessity to comprehend the perpetrators of sexual crimes against children on the internet. This presentation outlines a successful police investigation and prosecution of a webmaster on the dark net. We then present a debrief of the offender and highlight some of the key learning points from his account.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, FI


A Sister's Pact: The Successful Prosecution of a Grandfather Despite All Odds
William Pitmon
This presentation will detail the successful criminal investigation into the continuous sexual abuse of two sisters by their step-grandfather over the span of several years. The presenter will explain the struggle to overcome disbelieving prosecutors and colleagues, uncooperative victims, and a family as wealthy in their finances as they are in denial. This case study will examine the mindset of the dedicated criminal investigator that stopped at nothing to reveal the truth about the sexual abuse that two young girls had endured. This case study will also describe what obstacles were overcome to reach the conviction resulting in lifetime incarceration for an evil man hidden deep in high society’s clothing.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, VA, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC


Tom Duncan: A Social Service Nightmare
Kristen Joseph, Elizabeth Yusi
This case study details the investigation and prosecution of Tom Duncan, a potential adoptive father with bad intentions. After allegations of suspicious inappropriate behavior, and other bizarre behavior by Duncan, the children were removed from Duncan’s care and officials began searching for a way to keep them safe from detection. Duncan was so desperate to adopt two adolescent boys separately over the course of a year and a half that he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Duncan’s actions included hiding GPS tracking devices within their belongings, attempting to smuggle them cell phones for secret contact, and tracking one on a school field trip. This presentation will discuss the ways law enforcement had to constantly evolve to expose Duncan’s desperate attempts to locate the boys, and to hide or destroy evidence of his actions. Presenters will discuss the many different investigative techniques used to include cellular tower geolocation analysis, cloud based forensics, and more.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, CPS, CAC


Torture as a Form of Child Abuse: System Failures and a Little Boy’s Survival Against the Odds
Douglas Faini, Cecelia Gregson, Francesca Nix, Rebecca Wiester
This presentation will examine the multi-disciplinary response to the systematic and prolonged torture of a 6-year-old boy by his parents. The case involved issues of complex police and medical investigations and employed an innovative medical analysis of child torture and the physical, mental, and emotional indicia thereof. The presenters will detail the investigation, and the systemic failures that enabled the abuse to continue uninterrupted. Lastly, the presenters will discuss the three month trial where resulted in the defendants being convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison resulting in termination of parental rights.
Target Audience: All Attendees
See this link: 
Child Torture


Triple Threat: James Allen - Cyberstalker, Hacker, and Child Pornographer
Randy Garver, Michael Hockwater
This presentation will detail the investigation and prosecution of James Allen, a Michigan resident, who engaged in significant cyberstalking activities against 18 minor girls all located in the Buffalo, NY area. Allen committed CP offenses against four of the victims as well. The presenters will discuss Allen's deceit, manipulation, mean of hacking various accounts, and the fear and embarrassment of the victims. They will also discuss the investigative techniques used to collect evidence from Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and other electronic service providers and examples of the actual chat messages used by Allen to victimize the girls.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, Medical, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC
See this link: James Allen
 
 


U.S. vs Calvin Bernhardt: Philippine Online Child Exploitation
Gary Delorme, Randy Helderop
This case study details the arrest and prosecution of Calvin Bernhardt on charges related to his online exploitation of a child in the Philippines. The presentation will provide information on how investigators developed a NCMEC CyberTipline report from Facebook into an international investigation which resulted in multiple witnesses from the Philippines, including the victim and her mother, traveling to the United States to testify at trial. The presentation will address issues such as dealing with voluminous records, international coordination, and overcoming language and social barriers to prosecute a case. The presentation will also discuss Bernhardt’s repeated attempts to tamper with witnesses even following his conviction at trial.
Target Audience: LE, Pros, VA, FI
See this link: Calvin Bernhardt
 
 
 


U.S. v. John Abrams: Overcoming Repeated Failures While Surviving the Pro Per Defendant
Glenn Booth, Carla Higginbotham
This case study will explain how bias against sexual assault victims coupled with a sociopath con-man permitted a dangerous sexual predator to perpetrate sex crimes for over three decades without ever being prosecuted. John Abrams kidnapped two 15-year-old victims, one of whom he repeatedly raped. These crimes could have been prevented had investigators and prosecutors taken previous reports of sexual assault by Abrams seriously. This presentation will describe the investigation and prosecution that finally led to Abrams’ conviction and 40-year sentence. The presenters will provide various insights and tips related to prosecuting a case of kidnapping when the victim was initially complaint, overcoming a deficient investigation, and most of all, how to deal with a defendant who elects to represent himself.
Target Audience: LE, Pros
See this link: 
John Abrams


When the Criminal Justice System Fails: The Repeated Sexual Abuse of a Child 
Lindsay Campeau, James Isaacs
Mwangi Mumpfield was convicted in 2008 of sexual assault of his eight-year-old step-daughter. After his incarceration, he was legally not allowed near children; however, the child’s mother allowed him access. Over the next eight repeatedly sexually assaulted the same child and videotaped it. This case highlights the failure of the justice system to stop the sexual abuse of a child abuse, in spite of the "red flags" exhibited by the victim. This presentation will discuss the failures of law enforcement, CPS and forensic interviewers to identify the abuse. The presenters will also discuss the investigative technology used to apprehend the suspect and the bifurcated prosecution through efforts from federal and state law enforcement leading to the both the offender’s conviction for sexual assault and the mother’s conviction for her role in not preventing the abuse.
Target Audience: All Attendees
See this link: 
Mumpfield


You Can Run, but You Cannot Hide
Sandy Moreland, Reynie Tinajero

This presentation will detail how mutual cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement led to the apprehension of a suspect wanted for Capital Murder in the death of a toddler from severe head trauma. The presenters will discuss the efforts and methods of the law enforcement agencies involved that tracked this killer form the hospital where his victim died in her mother’s arms through his attempt to flee to Canada. The discussion will also include the obstacles the prosecution faced in their efforts to obtain out-of-state material witnesses.
Target Audience: LE, Pros
See this link: 
Johnny Lewis


Zachary Garrett: Pimp Daddy and His Two-Year-Old Daughter
James Holdman, Jennifer Tatum
This case study details the investigation of Zachary Garrett, a father of a two-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son who was advertising on Craigslist looking to find individuals and couples to take part in various sex acts to fulfill his fantasies. He was offering to "bring his two-year old daughter into the mix" to be sexually abused. The presenter will explain how he contacted, communicated and eventually met Garrett in an undercover capacity to verify the criminal activity. During the meeting, Garrett offered to allow the presenter the opportunity to sexually abuse his daughter. The presenter will discuss what should have been be an easy prosecution and the rescue of two children, but was not. What did occur was declination of prosecution by federal authorities in Kansas and state charges filed by a Kansas Prosecutor with a suggestion of probation for Garret. The presenter will explain how he was able to secure federal charges on Garrett in the Western District of Missouri in an attempt to prevent a guilty plea on state charges in return for probation. Lastly, the presenter will discuss the Kansas state prosecutor who got assigned to the case and made it her mission to send Garrett to prison for 25 years.  
Target Audience: LE, Pros, Probation, Parole, VA, FI, Therapist, CPS, CAC    
See this link: 
Zachary Garrett