LIST: Tracking cyber crimes against children in Central, Southwest Virginia

Here’s a comprehensive look at some of the most recent cyber crimes in Central and Southwest Virginia. (Canva)

As the saying goes, a parent’s job is never finished.

The worrying is endless, and any good parent is willing to do whatever it takes to keep their children safe.

This month, 10 News is working for you on ways you can keep your kids safe, specifically on the internet.

While surfing the web, there are myriads of dangers minors can be exposed to, one of those risks being online predators.

According to the Child Crime Prevention and Safety Center, there are 500,000 online predators active each day, with 89% of sexual advances directed at children occurring in Internet chatrooms or instant messaging.

Here’s a comprehensive look at some of the most recent cyber crimes in Central and Southwest Virginia.

Former VSP officer catfished California teen girl before murdering her family, police say (2022)

In November 2022, former Virginia State Police Officer Austin Lee Edwards, 28, reportedly drove across the country to meet a teenage girl before killing three of her family.

Authorities said Edwards, of North Chesterfield, Virginia, met the girl online and obtained her personal information by deceiving her with a false identity, also known as “catfishing.”

Man sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for using Snapchat to prey on teenage boys in Southwest Virginia (2021)

Between June and December 2020, Jason Kelly Inman targeted at least four teenage boys in Galax between the ages of 14 and 16, according to authorities.

Inman allegedly used Snapchat to solicit the teens to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves.

‘A parent’s worst nightmare’: Southwest Virginia man sentenced to 27 years for coercing minors on Snapchat (2021)

Hunter Royal, 23, used several different Snapchat accounts and posed as a young girl to contact other underage girls, some as young as 12 years old, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Authorities said he would initiate contact and gain his victims’ trust, sometimes by sending them photos of the young girls he was claiming to be.

He would then reportedly steer the conversation to sexual issues and convince his victims to take and send sexually explicit photos of themselves. Royal distributed some of the images he received to other people, according to court records.

Amber Alert canceled after 12-year-old Henry County girl found safe, child abduction suspect in custody (2021)

In 2021, an Amber Alert was issued after Allie Broadaway, a 12-year-old Henry County girl, was abducted by a then-21-year-old man she had met online.

Fortunately, Merrit, who had been in contact with other young girls in the Henry County area, was taken into custody not long after the abduction and Broadway was found safe.

About the Author:

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.