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Iowa man indicted on child pornography, weapons charges

A federal grand jury has indicted an Iowa man on child pornography and weapons charges.

Russell Eugene Blessman, 51, appeared before a federal magistrate Friday morning to face charges of possession of child pornography and possession of a firearm by a fugitive from justice. He pleaded not guilty, and a Dec. 31 trial date was set.

Blessman was arrested Oct. 10 at a Heber City motel. Inside his room, federal agents said they had found computers containing images of child pornography, as well as several guns. The Utah Attorney General's Office has been investigating a motel clerk's claims that in the weeks Blessman was staying in Heber City, several children were seen going in and out of his room.

"We've identified some kids," said Ken Wallentine, the Utah Attorney General's Chief of Law Enforcement. "We're talking with them and some of our concerns have been resolved."

Wallentine said that investigation is ongoing.

Blessman was wanted in Iowa on sex abuse charges, including one case involving an 8-year-old girl. Federal prosecutors said he arrived in Utah sometime around June. How he got here is unusual, police said.

Wallentine told the Deseret Morning News earlier this month that while in Iowa, Blessman had paid someone money to convert him to a Native American tribe that is not recognized by government authorities. Blessman was encouraged to go to Utah, where the 6-foot, 350 pound man actually lived in a cave for a time, Wallentine said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah said Blessman will remain in custody in Utah to face criminal charges here before returning to Iowa.