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Seven charged in BG predator sting

By Corey Bellamy, Commonwealth News Center
Special story with link to 7 photos

On Monday, October 22, 2007, Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo announced the arrests of 7 sexual predators, including a former Indiana law enforcement employee, who were caught in a child sexual predator sting in Bowling Green.

During the sting operation from October 18 - 21, 2007, seven men, ages 24 to 41, drove to a home in Bowling Green intending to victimize an innocent child. The men came from Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana.

Upon arriving at the sting location, the predators came face to face with Kentucky law enforcement, NBC's "To Catch A Predator" host Chris Hansen and volunteers from Perverted Justice, a public watchdog group.

"This is the third successful Child Predator Sting we have conducted," Attorney General Stumbo said. "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."

The seven cases from the most recent sting are being prosecuted by Chris Cohron, the Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney, who was joined by Warren County Sheriff Jerry "Peanuts" Gaines' office and Bowling Green City Police in supporting the sting.

"The value of this operation cannot be overstated," said Prosecutor Cohron. "For every one of these predators taken off the street, numerous children are saved from being future victims."

Following are the men caught and arrested in the sting operation:
  • Michael J. Patterson, 24, a former Indiana law enforcement employee drove over three hundred and fifty miles to the sting location. Patterson was in possession of a loaded weapon.
  • John Wesley Elliot, 39, drove from Marshall County, Kentucky to Bowling Green. Elliott is employed with a national window manufacturer.
  • Jeremy T. West, 27, Springfield, Tennessee was taken into custody after he drove to the Bowling Green sting house. He is a Springfield, Tennessee city worker.
  • Lorne L. Armstrong, 37, Nashville, Tennessee was arrested after driving over eighty miles to the sting house. Armstrong is an equipment operator.
  • James T. Fowler, 34, Murfreesboro, Tennessee drove almost one hour and fifty minutes on interstates 24 and 65 to Bowling Green where he was taken into custody. Fowler is a construction worker.
  • Richard M. Watwood, 41, Hermitage, Tennessee was apprehended after driving 66 miles. Watwood is employed as a factory worker.
  • Dustin McPhetridge, 26, Kingsport, Tennessee was detained by agents after traveling over 210 miles across the Kentucky border. McPhetridge is a DVD salesman and computer repairman.
To see photos of all seven men, Click Here

Each perpetrator was charged with attempted unlawful transaction with a minor, under age 16, a Class C felony. If convicted, each man faces five to ten years in prison.

Charges are merely accusations. Criminal defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This is the third child sexual predator sting organized by Stumbo's office. Since October 2006, 29 predators have been arrested. Previous successful operations were held in Louisville with eight arrests and Northern Kentucky where fourteen men were taken into custody. Over thirty additional cases have been referred to the United States Attorneys Office for further review.

Attorney General Stumbo has also formed an i-Shield Task Force to get "cybersafety" information out to our schools and communities. This Task Force is composed of specially trained law enforcement officers from across the state who help teach children and others in their community how to avoid Internet predators and other Internet dangers.

He has also added a Cybersafety section to the Office of the Attorney General website ( with online tips and information to safeguard children from Internet threats including dangers such as cyberstalking and cyberbullying.

Stumbo's office has partnered with the Kentucky Center for School Safety, and also sponsored an i-SAFE Assembly Program to educate and empower students to act safely and responsibly on the Internet. Representatives from Stumbo's office have made Internet safety presentations to more than 5,000 high school and middle school students across the state highlighting risks and teaching responsible behavior.

Stumbo's office is also a member of a multistate task force of attorneys general working with social networking sites MySpace and Facebook to make their sites safer for minors.

The Attorney General's Kentucky Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and Office of Consumer Protection coordinated this undercover child sexual predator sting operation with the Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, the Warren County Sheriff's Office, Perverted Justice, NBC's "To Catch A Predator," Investigative Mechanics, the City of Bowling Green and other law enforcement agencies.

This story was posted on 2007-10-23 04:21:55
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