Protecting your child from online predators

Protecting your child from online predators

The dangers of the internet: right now, someone is hiding behind a computer - waiting to strike.
"Kacie was a very loving child. She was just full of love and full of hugs."

For Greenbrier Iinvestigator Rick Woody, the pain is still fresh.

So is the night of December 3, 2002.

"I called Kacie on the phone and everything was normal for the school day, everything was fine and going great."

But at around 9:45 that evening, everything changed.

It started in, of all places, an online christian chat room. It was a familiar place where 13-year-old Kacie and her friends would often talk for hours.

It's also where she met a 17-year old boy from California, named David.

But David was no teenager. In fact, he was 47-year-old cyber predator David Fuller, who patiently lured Kacie into his lethal web. After a year of chatting with Kacie online, Fuller flew to Arkansas, and executed his plan of attack.

"When my son got home from the library, he called and asked me where Kacie was and I said, well, she should be home,” Woody said. “He said, ‘She's not here.’"

"I knew immediately something was wrong."

As her dad worked the night shift, Fuller entered Kacie's house and covered her face with a rag soaked in chloroform. He then dragged her into a rented a van, and drove to a nearby storage unit where he raped her and shot her in the head. As the swat team closed in, Fuller shot and killed himself.

"No warning signs?”

“No warning signs at all."

The murder of his only daughter changed his life forever.

"It's amazing that something like that can happen to her, but it can happen to anybody," Woody said.

So now Woody, along with some of Kacie's friends, travel the country teaching others about the dangers of internet predators.

"I had to do what I could to try to save every child that I could."

For starters, Woody says, too much personal information is being posted online.

"Predators will take these pictures and they'll find someone that they like the way they look and then they'll start preying on these children and locate them," Woody said.

And if a dialogue is started, Woody says predators will then begin a grooming process.

"First of all they use similar interests. They will always seem to have whatever interests the child has,” Woody said. “They'll use secrecy. They will tell they child that they've got to keep this relationship a secret. They can't tell anybody else about it cause no one else will understand."

The predator’s ultimate goal is to build trust and a relationship, and once its established, the next move is to arrange a meeting.

"Parents have to be involved, heavily involved in their child's internet experience. They got to be nosy. They've got to get in the middle of the child's business and they child is not going to like it but that's what a parent has to do."

Especially considering that what happened to Kacie could happen to your child.

"Don't fall into the trap of thinking that bad things can only happen to someone else,” Woody said. “Bad things can happen to anybody."
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