Men from across the state busted in online predator sting - - Jackson, MS

Richland 05/12/09

Men from across the state busted in online predator sting

By Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

RICHLAND, MS (WLBT) - Three months ago a Richland parent discovered their teenaged daughter was approached on line by older men wanting more than conversation.

The Richland Police Department's resulting undercover sting took the predators from cyberspace to the lockup.

Four men are in a Rankin county jail charged with enticing a child for sex on the internet.

They are 32 year old Jason Covington of Jackson, 45 year old Dewey DeLong of Pearl, 21 year old John Randle Jr. of Starkville, and 28 year old Tremayne Whitehead of Hattiesburg.

"We don't realize sometimes how dangerous bringing that internet into our home is. It's just real important to understand the risks and dangers," said Richland Police Chief Russel James.

The predator sting, conducted over more than two months, involved a Richland detective posing as a 15 year old girl online in numerous chat rooms.

All four men traveled to Richland to meet the teen.

"Hundreds of texts of instant messages came up. We were to be honest with you surprised. We did not think we were gonna get the kind of activity that we did," said James.

The Attorney General's Office assisted with computer forensics.

Their investigations of the seized computers also discovered that DeLong, Randle and Whitehead sent child porn to minors.

"Our goal in this whole thing was to get to a point where if a person is trying to chat online with a child, and that child says 'I'm from Richland.' We want them to say 'I ain't coming to Richland', said the chief.  

They plan to conduct three to four more internet stings within the next year.

The department will soon give parents and children the tools to deal with online predators by conducting an educational computer session in July.

WLBT has learned that Tremayne Whitehead is a teacher in Petal.  

The Richland Police Department will hold a predator seminar for parents and their children July 16th at the Richland Community Center.

The time has not been announced.

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