A Waxahachie man was arrested on 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography, and a failure to appear in court charge, totaling a bond of more than $5 million.
Craig Lee Stevens was booked into the Wayne McCollum Detention Center by the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 14, and has not been released on bond since.
“I think it’s unusual for what we normally see,” said Chief Deputy Dennis Brearley, with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. “Here’s where we’ve got a person with 10 separate offenses of child porn and you don’t see that a lot in Ellis County. That’s not to say a person doesn’t get caught somewhere else, but this isn’t something we see every year even, to where you have this many.”
Waxahachie Police Department originally arrested Stevens in March for possession of child porn, after Dallas police alerted local police to the case, according to the Waxahachie police. The bond set at that time was $10,000, and he bonded out.
On Feb. 15, WPD detective Elizabeth Maldonado received information about the case from a Dallas officer, who had received three reports from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, initiated by Yahoo officials, according to a WPD probable cause affidavit. Yahoo officials reported 544 pictures of possible child pornography content connected to a Yahoo Flickr account with the screen name “strangerwitsuckers,” the affidavit stated. Flickr is a photo sharing website, where users can upload and download photos.
Yahoo only provided police with a single Internet Protocol (IP) date and time to the only IP address, which is a numerical label assigned to each device participating in a certain computer network.
From there, the Dallas police officer and Maldonado reviewed the photos, “which included mostly child erotica and one verified photo of child pornography,” the affidavit stated.
“The one verified photo of child pornography was on the NCMEC report (case number redacted, file number redacted), which depicted a white male child who appeared to be under the age of 14 in a sexually provocative pose […]” Maldonado testified in the WPD affidavit.
The Dallas detective then subpoenaed AT&T, requesting information related to the IP address, date and time for the most recent file upload, which was Dec. 13, 2013, according to the WPD affidavit. The detective then obtained a search warrant for Yahoo, requesting information and date content related to the account, the affidavit stated.
Yahoo provided police with a CD containing information about the user, which revealed the address of the Internet subscriber. Before handing the case to the Waxahachie Police Department, the Dallas detective researched an address in the 300 block of Iroquois Lane, to find out Stevens’ home was occupied by five people, specifically Stevens, who had a birth date and phone number matching the information turned over by Yahoo, the affidavit stated. That’s when the Dallas Police Department handed the case over to Waxahachie law enforecement completely, who then executed a search warrant, the affidavit stated.
“I, along with several other detectives executed this search warrant without incident at approximately 1300 hours (1 p.m.) on March 21, 2014,” Maldonado stated. “At the same time, Lt. Woodruff contacted Craig Stevens while he was working and asked him to come to the police department to speak with him about this incident. Craig complied and had Lt. Woodruff interview him at the same time I was serving the warrant.”
Woodruff explained to Maldonado that Stevens had admitted to Woodruff hat he was the one in the house who was uploading and downloading child erotica and porn, the affidavit stated. Stevens stated to Woodruff that most of his photos were located on a flash drive in the living room, connected to a laptop with stickers on the top, the affidavit read.
“I opened the laptop and turned on the monitor. The first thing I saw was an open Flickr account for Strangerswsuckers1, which appeared to be the new Flickr account Craig had opened since Yahoo shut down his other one,” Maldonado stated. “I scrolled down the Flickr feed and saw several photos of child erotica and possible child pornography. I later checked the USB drive and found hundreds of photos of pornography with very young looking female actors and specifically found [...] photos classified by penal code standards of child pornography.”
The affidavit then describes three photos of children under what seems to be age 13 in “lewd exhibition.” Police determined Stevens knowingly or intentionally possessed visual material that visibly depicted a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made, who is engaging in sexual conduct, and understood the material depicted a child in sexual conduct, the affidavit stated.
He was officially arrested on March 26, Woodruff stated in an email. However, on Nov. 12, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office received a warrant issued by the district clerk. Stevens was charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography at a bond of $500,000 each, and a failure to appear/ bond forfeiture charge of $20,000.
“It appears by the documents filed with us, he was subsequently indicted on additional charges,” said Brearley.
The failure to appear charge may have been related to his previous charge, Brearley stated.
“I would anticipate, based upon the additional charges, that his bond company went off his bond and caused him to be picked up,” Brearley said. “Or he could have had a hearing and failed to appear to the hearing and had the additional charge. In any event, a warrant was re-issued and he was brought in on that, subsequent to the 10 charges he was arrested on with the district clerk warrant.”
Woodruff confirmed via email that Waxahachie police continued to investigate the case after Stevens’ arrest, and detective Elizabeth Wilbanks had or found additional information and images to provide the grand jury handling Stevens’ case.
Stevens turned himself into sheriff’s deputies on Nov. 14 after he walked into the sheriff’s office lobby. There, law enforcement arrested Stevens without incident, according to the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office arrest warrant.
“Obviously, if we’ve got somebody that’s engaged in child porn, nobody wants them out there where they can continue,” Brearley stated. “This is a Waxahachie PD case, not an Ellis County Sheriff’s Office case, so they’re obviously the lead agency on it. Those guys are hard workers over there. I think any law enforcement would agree that it’s good to have somebody like this off the streets.”