RIVERTON — Unified police are investigating a man who has allegedly been soliciting teenage girls to have his baby for $70,000, even going so far as to leave a note in the vehicle of an unsuspecting family, according to court documents.
As of Tuesday, the 27-year-old man had not been arrested or formally charged. But Unified police say they expect to meet with prosecutors in the near future to discuss potential criminal charges. The Deseret News has opted not to name the man at this time.
The investigation began in September when a note was found inside a car parked in front of a Riverton residence, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.
"I was informed four juvenile girls had been in the vehicle prior to the vehicle being parked and the note was not there. I was informed the letter was offering $70,000 for one of the girls to have his baby," the detective investigating the case wrote in her warrant.
The note also contained a phone number. The father of one of the girls texted the number "and was informed by the suspect that in order to get the $70,000 they would need to have sex," the affidavit states.
Unified police were called and a report was taken. But the girls' parents "were not satisfied or did not understand how the investigation was going to move forward and became upset," the warrant notes.
The mother made a post on her Facebook page, prompting another couple to also send a text message to the number on the note.
"(They) contacted the suspect posing as a 15-year-old girl who was interested in the $70,000," according to the warrant.
The man sent a photograph of himself to the couple, according to police. The group posing as the 15-year-old girl then arranged to meet the man at a McDonald's in Herriman.
The man arrived and police were called. But when an officer came to investigate, the man "denied any knowledge about the text messages. I was also informed that (the man) denied any involvement in placing the note on the vehicle. (He) was released on scene at that time due to lack of evidence," the affidavit says.
Again, the couple who had posed as the 15-year-old "were also unsatisfied with the officer’s actions" and again made social media posts on their own, "along with a post voicing their feelings on officers’ actions."
Later, the man who showed up at the McDonald's,contacted police and asked to speak to officers in person, claiming some of the comments made about him on social media were not true, the warrant states.
But through the course of the interview, the man "eventually stated he did put the note on the car and had the conversation with (the group) over text message" but then "claimed he was being blackmailed by unknown suspects and that they were making him put the notes on the cars and carry on the conversations with the people who text him," according to the affidavit.
The man then bizarrely told police "one of the agreements he had to make was that he would meet with the girls and then transport them to the mine and drop off the girls. (He) stated he did not go to McDonald's with the intent on taking the girls to the mine," the warrant states. Court documents do not indicate what mine the man was allegedly talking about.
The officer who wrote the warrant noted that the man's "story changed multiple times during the conversation and he was not consistent with the answers he was providing. Eventually (he) admitted to putting the note on the car without being blackmailed and stated the reason he did it was to solicit sex. (He) said he did not intend on paying the girls anything. (He) also admitted he went to McDonald's with the intent on having sex with a 15-year-old girl."
The man then told police he had met other teen girls on dating apps and that he downloaded child pornography from someone he met on one of those apps, the warrant states.
While interviewing the man, he told police he had "made out" with a teen girl while working at Home Depot in Riverton, according to the warrant. Police later located that girl who said she was "sexually assaulted" by the man. That same girl also told detectives that she had seen some of the man's social media posts and that he "had been asking if anyone wanted to make $70,000 over SnapChat. The victim said she asked (him) about the $70,000 and (he) told her she would need to have sex with him and have his child."
When the interview with the man was finished, he "began begging officers to change his passwords on his accounts so he was not tempted to use them," according to the affidavit.
Since then, the investigation has uncovered other potential victims, said Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray. The reason charges have not been screened with prosecutors yet is to give detectives time to interview those people, she said.
As for residents conducting their own investigations, Gray said the law is very specific about how those types of cases can be conducted, and untrained people run the risk of hampering an investigation with entrapment and coercion problems. She asked that all residents please be be patient with detectives and give them time to do their work.