Monday, December 08, 2014

Joplin truck driver pleads guilty to child pornography charges

A federal judge today accepted the guilty plea of a Joplin truck driver on child pornography charges.

Lon M. Hull was arrested at his place of employment in Joplin in March. The charges are outlined in the probable cause affidavit written by Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force member Charles Root of the Joplin Police Department:

On March 17, 2014, the Affiant was contacted by agents with the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (PA ICAC), and informed of an active child pornography investigation that jurisdiction.

Task Force Officer (TFO) Brittney Baughman reported that their Task Force had executed a search warrant at 82 Pike Street, Middleton, Pennsylvania 17057. The search warrant was the result of an
undercover child pornography investigation they had initiated on December 24, 2013,using the file sharing program “Ares.”

On that date, TFO Baughman identified acomputer using IP address to share suspected child pornography video files over the internet, using the file sharing program “Ares.”

During the undercover operation, TFO Baughman downloaded a total of five suspected child pornography video files which had been previously identified by law enforcement as child pornography. TFO Baughman caused an investigative subpoena to be issued to the internet service provider identified as Comcast Cable Communications of Pennsylvania. The service provider returned the subpoena identifying the account holder as a Tina Shope, with the address of 82 Pike Street, Middleton, Pennsylvania 17057. While executing the search warrant at the above named address, forensic previews of the digital media located at the residence revealed no suspected image or videos of child pornography.

As a result of TFO Baughman’s investigation, Lon M. Hull, a 47 year old male, was identified as a suspect. The residents of the above address were identified as Tina and Russ Shope. They advised that Hull was a childhood friend and had stayed with them during the Christmas season, and while
staying with them, they had given him access to their wireless internet.

On March 17, 2014, the Affiant was informed by TFO Baughman that Hull was a truck driver and after contacting his employer, they learned he was currently at the General Mills plant located at 3007 Stephens Boulevard, Joplin, Missouri 64804, which is located in the Western District of Missouri. It was reported that Hull was in the process of unloading from the business and would be re-loading his truck and traveling to Memphis, Tennessee later that night.
TFO Baughman requested the Affiant’s assistance in contacting Hull and conducting an interview with him.

On March 17, 2014, at approximately 2:57 p.m., the Affiant contacted Lon Hull as he was sitting in his semi-truck bearing Missouri license 52-509. The Affiant identified himself to Hull and asked him if he would be willing to speak inside the Affiant’s truck. Hull agreed, and at approximately 2:59 p.m., Hull was advised of his Miranda rights and the Affiant conducted an interview with Hull. The interview was audio recorded and concluded at approximately 4:17 p.m.

While interviewing Hull, he was asked if he would give his permission for assisting agents to search his laptop computer. He consented and stated his laptop computer was at the foot of his bed inside his truck. Hull also provided the password for his laptop computer.

TFO Larry Roller with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force (SMCCTF) conducted a forensic preview of Hull’s Acer laptop computer. During the search, at least 17 suspected child pornographic videos files were located, including the five suspected child pornographic video files that were downloaded by TFO Baughman in December, 2013. TFO Roller advised the age of the youngest child he observed was approximately five years old. He stated these pornographic videos contained children engaged in digital penetration, oral sex, as well as vaginal intercourse.

While interviewing Hull, he made the following non-verbatim statement: He purchased the Acer laptop computer new at a Staples store, in Daytona, Florida approximately two years ago. He said he is the only user of this laptop computer and anything that is on the computer, he is the one that is responsible for putting it there.

He advised he downloaded the file sharing program “Ares” approximately one year ago and has since deleted it from his laptop because he is not proud of what he has done. He said he has been trying to stop, but keeps going back to this material. He said he has done this in the past as well. He admitted to using the search terms, “Hussyfan,” “Kingpass,” etc. to download pornography, but said he did not knowthey were common child pornography search terms.

Hull advised he likes to view and delete pornography and has never told anyone else about his online activity.

When asked about the 17 child pornography files on his computer, he stated he forgot they were there. The Affiant asked Hull if he thought he needed help for his child pornography addiction. He stated he guessed so.

At the end of the interview, the Affiant asked Hull if there was any additional child pornography in his truck. He said there was. He said there is an external hard drive inside a computer bag at the foot of his bed in his truck that contains approximately 100 pornographic videos. He stated approximately half of those videos contain child pornography. He said he has had these files for several years and had copied them from his last computer and stored them on the hard drive. The Affiant asked for and received Hull’s permission for TFO Roller to retrieve this hard drive from his truck. The hard drive was located where Hull said and was seized and entered into evidence pending the receipt of a search warrant.

While interviewing Hull, he admitted to being the person responsible for downloading and viewing child pornography while at his friend Russ Shope’s residence in Pennsylvania. He said he thought he was using his T-mobile “Hotspot,” but said he may have used his friend’s WiFi. He said he was sitting in his truck whiledoing this because there was no privacy in the residence. When asked what time period he was at his friend’s residence, he said a couple of days before Christmas and a couple of days after.

At the end of the interview, the Affiant asked Hull if he thought he should be in trouble and if he thought what he had done was illegal. He said he knew it was illegal and wrong.

On March 17, 2014, at approximately 4:12 p.m., the Affiant informed Hull he was under arrest and would be held at the Joplin City Jail pending transfer to federal custody on March 18, 2014.

No comments: