Richard Dates, 67, of Grants, N.M., a reporter and copy editor for the Cibola Beacon, was charged Thursday with possessing child pornography.
In documents filed in federal court Friday, authorities said searches of computers owned by a Massachusetts man and a Kansas man arrested earlier this year showed Dates had chatted online with the men and received photos of children engaged in sexual acts.
Authorities said Dates told federal agents that he traded child pornography online with people in several countries, including Turkey. He also allegedly stated that he had used a photo editing program on several photos of butchered body parts, sending them through his Skype account to various users.
“Dates stated that he has discussed fantasized stories with other Skype users regarding a world where young people would be raped, butchered, cooked and served to patrons at a restaurant,” Alfred Allen, a special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, wrote in an affidavit filed in court.
Dates made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on Friday. He said he was unable to afford an attorney and asked for one to be appointed for him. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing.
Donald Jaramillo, publisher of the Cibola Beacon, said he was aware of the charges against Dates and said he no longer works at the newspaper. Jaramillo said Dates was a contract reporter and copy editor for about five months.
Dates is the 46th person arrested in the two-year investigation.
The case began in Massachusetts with the arrest of Robert Diduca, a Sheraton hotel manager from Milford, Mass., who sent a photo of a Dutch boy to an undercover federal agent in Boston. Diduca thought he was sending the photo to a man with a sexual interest in young children.
The photo led authorities to Amsterdam, where they arrested Robert Mikelsons, a day care worker who confessed to molesting 87 young children, including the 18-month-old boy in the photo. Photos and online chats found on computers owned by Diduca and Mikelsons led to more than three dozen suspects in seven countries. Authorities have identified more than 140 child victims.
Authorities said Dates was chatting online with two other men charged in the investigation: Michael Arnett, of Roeland Park, Kan., and Geoffrey Portway, of Worcester, Mass. Investigators have said they found online chats on Arnett’s computer about his alleged desire to abduct, kill and eat children.
“The extremely disturbing tentacles of this investigation extend overseas, across the United States, and now to New Mexico,” said Dennis Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso who oversees HSI throughout New Mexico.
“This investigation, and all our Operation Predator investigations, are solely designed to protect our children, and bring to justice their victimizers.”
Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico, said Dates was arrested Thursday, and agents found “hundreds” of images of children. Abar said he did not know if any of the children in the photos were from New Mexico or Massachusetts, but the investigation is ongoing.
Authorities said Dates told agents that in addition to his apartment in Grants, he owned a mobile home in El Morro, N.M. Agents who searched the property found around 40 binders and hardcover books containing images of children, according to Allen’s affidavit.
LAS CRUCES NM April 26 2012 - Police arrested a man Monday who allegedly slashed a Hobby Lobby employee with a box cutter after he and an unidentified woman tried to leave the Las Cruces store without paying for merchandise.
Three Hobby Lobby employees and an off-duty Border Patrol agent teamed up to detain Michael Gristy, 46, of Organ, N.M., until Las Cruces police officers responded to the store at 2350 E Lohman Ave., just after 5 p.m.
One employee suffered a lacerated elbow from Gristy’s box cutter during a struggle, police said.
Gristy, who was arrested, is being held at the Doña Ana County Detention Center. He is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated assault, shoplifting and conspiracy.
Police are also looking to charge a woman who was seen on surveillance video with Gristy inside Hobby Lobby just before the alleged shoplifting.
The alleged accomplice set off a security sensor when she left the store without paying for merchandise. A store manager followed her outside, but she refused to return to the store and ran away, police said.
The store manager grabbed the woman’s purse, but was immediately struck by Gristy, police said. The woman ran to a car and sped away, leaving Gristy and her purse behind.
Three Hobby Lobby employees followed Gristy as he walked across the parking lot toward a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. Police said Gristy became agitated and pulled out a box cutter to threaten the employees.
When Gristy turned to run away, two employees tackled him to the ground. After allegedly cutting one employee with his box cutter, Gristy got up and continued running to the McDonald’s until an off-duty Border Patrol agent arrived and used his pickup truck to block Gristy’s path, police said.
The agent and store employees were then able to detain Gristy until police arrived. The employee who received the laceration was treated for his injuries at the scene, police said.
State police have confirmed that hiker Megumi Yamamoto and pilot Sgt. Andy Tingwall have been found dead.
Officials said earlier Thursday that they feared university student Yamamoto did not survive the crash Tuesday night.
The chopper had just rescued Yamamoto, who had been on a hiking trip, when it hit the side of a mountain. The third person aboard, state police officer Wesley Cox, managed to reach safety Wednesday.
Cox, who hiked away from the crash, told police he had checked the hiker’s vital signs and concluded she died from injuries in the crash.
The New Mexico State Police Web site has posted a memorial for Tingwall.
Helicopters airlifted rescuers as close as they could to the wreckage of a state police helicopter Thursday, looking for two people missing from a crash on a 12,000-foot mountain near Santa Fe.
State police said they found the helicopter Wednesday.
Search Continues For Missing Pilot, Hiker
Two Blackhawk Helicopters landed near the crash site Thursday and dropped off two ground crews to search area.
The helicopter was found at about 7:30 p.m., more than 20 miles away from the command center in Hyde Memorial State Park.
State Police Chief Faron Segotta said he spoke to Officer Wesley Cox, who was rescued Wednesday afternoon.
He said Cox told him there was a strike of the tail rotor when he and Sgt. Andrew Tingwall were rescuing lost hiker Megumi Yamamoto.
Cox said they were 12,300 feet in the air and were unable to get the altitude they needed.
“They struck the hillside, we believe the helicopter rolled down the hillside about 100 feet or so,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Faron Segotta.
Cox told Segotta that he, Tingwall and Yamamoto were thrown from the helicopter.
Waiting For Rescue
Cox said when he came to, he began searching for the two.
He was able to maintain audio contact with Tingwall throughout the night.
Although the two couldn’t see each other, they would periodically yell out each other’s names.
“They would call out each other’s names,” Segotta said. “Andy? Wes? Andy? Wes? That’s how they communicated.”
Cox said he hunkered down inside the aircraft overnight, waiting for the ground crews to arrive.
When it became light out, he said he lost contact with Tingwall.
That’s when he knew he needed to get help.
Cox was met by one of the ground crews early Wednesday afternoon.
He was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe with extreme hypothermia, internal injuries, injuries to his right leg and back, and several cuts.
Cox is listed in serious condition. The hypothermia had improved dramatically by Wednesday night.
Tingwall is no stranger to dangerous missions. Last summer, he rescued a man from rushing arroyo near Interstate 40 and Carlisle.
The rescue earned Tingwall the honor of Officer of the Year by the New Mexico State Sheriff’s and Police Association.
“Any law enforcement officer within the state, if they would have been in the same position as me, they would have done the same thing that I did,” he said at the time. “I just want to thank those men and women for being a part of them and being a part of this profession.”
Gov. Bill Richardson said he was taking the news of Tingwall’s crash hard.
“Andy Tingwall is the brother of one of the members of my security detail,” he said. “Andy Tingwall has also flown me in the helicopter.”
He said he has committed all of the state’s resources necessary to assist with the rescue effort.
Megumi Yamamoto is a student at the University of New Mexico who is originally from Tokyo. Police said she and her boyfriend were hiking on Tuesday when they became separated and lost.
Her call to 911 led to the large ground search and the launch of the helicopter.
Her boyfriend made it to safety but spent the night helping search and rescue teams.
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