According to the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation, Dustin Jacob McPhetridge, 26, 149 Hurd Road, Surgoinsville, had been chatting online with a person he thought to be a 13-year-old girl from Bowling Green, Ky., but who turned out to be a police officer.
Police say McPhetridge drove 210 miles from Surgoinsville to Bowling Green on Saturday to meet the girl and instead met Kentucky law enforcement officials, NBC’s “To Catch A Predator” host Chris Hansen, and volunteers from Perverted Justice, which is a public watchdog group.
McPhetridge was one of seven men ages 24 to 41 from Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky who drove to a home in Bowling Green allegedly intending to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Each suspect was charged with attempted unlawful transaction with a minor under age 16, a Class C felony that carries a punishment of five to 10 years in prison.
But that’s not as serious as the charge McPhetridge faces at home in Hawkins County. McPhetridge reportedly told Kentucky authorities he is self-employed as a “DVD salesman and computer repairman.” He had also allegedly admitted to authorities in Kentucky that he had child pornography at his home.
On Sunday, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at McPhetridge’s home and seized a large quantity of CDs, DVDs and his computer.
Upon investigating the CDs and DVDs, Hawkins County detectives allege McPhetridge had in excess of 100 images of child pornography in his possession.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office issued an arrest warrant for McPhetridge charging him with exploitation of a minor, a Class B felony punishable by eight to 12 years in prison.
McPhetridge remained lodged in the Warren County (Ky.) Jail in Bowling Green Wednesday on $50,000 bond. Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian said Wednesday the Kentucky charges against him will have to be resolved before he can be extradited back to Rogersville.
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo said this latest sting operation occurred from Oct. 18 to 21.
“This is the third successful child predator sting we have conducted,” said Stumbo. “The men we arrested assumed they had been chatting online with a 13-year-old child, but police were monitoring every word. KBI and local law enforcement have now caught a total of 29 predators in the last year.”