Detectives Work with the Washington State ICAC Task Force & Utah Police to Catch an Internet Child Predator

Detectives Work with the Washington State ICAC Task Force & Utah Police to Catch an Internet Child Predator

On September 21, 2015 the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) received a request from the Washington State Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force to contact the Layton City Police Department in Utah regarding a “Traveler” case.  A “Traveler” is a person who meets young children on the internet and entices them into meeting for sexual purposes. These “Travelers” often communicate for several weeks, grooming these children, prior to the first contact. Once the child agrees to meet, the “Traveler” will go and meet with the victim child. After the contact, the “Traveler” normally returns to their community and resumes their everyday life style. It is not unusual for these “Travelers” to re-contact the same victim child numerous times.

In this case, the “Traveler”, identified as 24-year-old Robert W. Folsom, lived in Spokane and was traveling to Layton City, Utah to victimize a 14-year-old female. The father of the victim discovered the relationship between his daughter and Folsom by inspecting the victims’ cellular phone. The father immediately reported this activity to law enforcement, initiating an investigation. Their investigation discovered Folsom traveled to Utah at least three times from February to July of 2015, meeting with the child victim for the purpose of unlawful sexual activity.

Layton City Police Department’s investigation resulted in 14 Felony charges:

  • 2 Counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
  • 8 Counts of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor
  • 1 Count of Dealing in Harmful Material to a Minor by an Adult
  • 3 Counts of Enticing a Minor

Layton City Police Department requested SAU detectives locate and arrest Folsom on their warrants as they planned to extradite Folsom back to Utah to stand trial. They also requested a search warrant be sought for Folsom’s residence to obtain any digital evidence related to the investigation.

On the morning of September 22, 2015, SAU investigators began researching Folsom in anticipation of arresting him for the warrants. They discovered Folsom had been reported as missing after a hand written suicide note from Folsom was located.

After several hours of attempting to locate Folsom, SAU investigators believed Folsom may be traveling back to Utah to contact the victim. Fearing Folsom may harm or kidnap the victim, detectives contacted a Layton City Police Department Patrol Supervisor and advised them of their suspicion.  They also called the father of the victim, warned him of the possible threat, and provided Folsom’s vehicle description and license plate number to assist in the protection of the child.

Shortly after providing this information, the father called SAU Detectives back and stated Folsom’s vehicle was parked down the street from the victim’s home. The father was directed to hang up and call 911 while SAU Detectives called the Layton City Police Department and informed them of the potential emergency.

Layton City Police Officers responded and located Folsom sitting in his vehicle parked a couple blocks away from the victims’ home. Folsom refused to comply with the officer’s commands and a SWAT standoff ensued.  When the Layton City Police Department SWAT Team attempted to take Folsom into custody, he stabbed and cut himself with a knife several times. Folsom was air-lifted to a local hospital and at last report was listed in critical condition due to his self-inflicted wounds.

As this incident was unfolding in Layton City, SAU Detectives conducted a search of Folsom’s residence after a search warrant was granted here in Spokane.

This is an excellent example of the success the ICAC Task Force has been able to achieve by linking law enforcement agencies across the country together for the expedient and safe rescue of child victims.  The investigators and patrol officers of the Layton City Police Department did an excellent job working with Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sexual Assault Unit Detectives to identify and locate this suspect.  Their tenacity and hard work likely saved this young victim from potential further abuse or possibly death.

Deputy Mark Gregory
Spokane County Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Officer

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