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Two Arrested After Airplane Passenger Oversees Texts About Child Sexual Exploitation

SPD detectives, working in conjunction with San Jose police, arrested a man and a woman earlier this week after text messages sent from an airplane led police to investigate the pair for child sexual exploitation and rape.

On July 31st, Seattle detectives were contacted by members of an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in San Jose, California seeking assistance.  A passenger aboard a flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to San Jose had reportedly observed a fellow passenger texting someone on his phone.  The man had an oversized phone, which displayed a large enough font that the witness could see what he was texting.  The content of the text messages was very disturbing to the witness as it involved comments about the sexual exploitation of children.   So concerned about the content of the messages that the witness captured images of the text messages and contacted authorities when the plane landed.  The man was detained by police and the San Jose ICAC detectives took over the case.

The ICAC detectives identified the text messaging recipient on the man’s phone.  A preliminary check showed that the adult female lived in the Tacoma, WA area.  Additionally, there was information that the woman had access to children either as a caregiver or babysitter.

San Jose authorities contacted Seattle Police ICAC investigators because they are the lead agency for the Washington State ICAC Task Force.  The case was assigned to an SPD detective who located the female at a residence in the Tacoma area, where she lived with her ex-husband, his wife and three children.  The detective obtained search warrants for the Tacoma home and the residence of the male suspect.

The female suspect was located and interviewed by detectives.  Following the interview, the suspect was arrested and booked into the Pierce County Jail. Upon completion of the forensic examination of items recovered from the search warrants, the case will be presented for formal determination of charges.  The King County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case for charges in Washington State.  Additionally, they are consulting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine if any federal charges would be appropriate.

This remains an active and on-going investigation.