Saturday, May 3, 2003

Mother's tip leads to online sex case

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer


MONROE - Give the woman a badge.

A 31-year-old homemaker used her home computer - and a little moxie - to lead police here to a Kentucky trucker whom they charged with attempted rape Friday.

"She did almost as good a job as a police officer, getting information on this guy," said Detective Michael Staples.

Matthew Cooper, 30, of Elizabethtown, Ky., was booked into the Warren County Jail after police followed a tip that an Akron, Ohio-area woman provided Thursday evening.

Without her, police probably would not have known about Cooper, said Police Chief Ernest Howard. "Who knows who the guy would have made contact with?" the chief asked.

Someone using the screen name, "iwanttobeadad," had sent out chat-room messages seeking to meet parents with kids in the Monroe area.

The Akron-area woman, at her home 200 miles away, became concerned. The woman, who requested that her name not be published, asked what he wanted to do with the kids. The man said he wanted to have sex with them if the parents would consent, Staples said.

The woman replied she had two kids - both under the age of 12. The man said that was fine with him, Staples said. Then the woman asked where "iwanttobeadad" could be located - and he promptly responded with a full description: the Super 8 Motel, off of Interstate 75, exit 29, and even gave his motel room number. The woman then called police with that information. She later e-mailed a copy of the chat to Detective Staples.

Staples said he found Cooper at the motel, 150 N. Garver Road. Cooper matched a photograph that was included in the "iwanttobeadad" chat-room user profile.

Late Friday afternoon, Staples said he had just obtained a search warrant for Cooper's motel room and confiscated a laptop computer and related software.

The suspect admitted he had used the computer for the chat with the Akron woman, Staples said. Cooper also disclosed that he had stored "hundreds of sexually oriented nude images of youngsters, all under the age of 16, some as young as 5 or 6," said Staples. Additional charges are likely if investigators are able to retrieve those images, Staples said.

Cooper is scheduled to appear in Lebanon Municipal Court on Monday.

Meanwhile, the woman on Friday said she was pleased and relieved that police had been able to catch the suspect before he moved on to another location. "I'm just so happy they got him," she said.

Though the woman said she is a bit fearful of retaliation against her family, she said she felt it was her responsibility to come forward. If other parents would do the same, "a lot more of them could be stopped," she said.


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