Laura Williams, Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations
VSO DETECTIVES WIN NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION AWARD
Team Honored for Relentless Work in 2019 Child Sex Abuse Investigation
Six Volusia Sheriff’s Office detectives are being honored today with a national award for their extraordinary work to investigate an active case of child sexual abuse and arrest the suspect in Deltona – all in less than 24 hours.
Our detectives were chosen to receive the 37th Annual National Missing Children’s Day Child Protection Award, out of 16 national nominations, for their significant “contribution to protecting children from abuse or victimization.”
Through this 2019 investigation, the suspect was identified as a 24-year-old man living in Deltona and two young girls were rescued at the scene.
The team being honored includes Detectives Chastity Burke, Keith Earney, Ruben Escobar, Eugene Mefford, Dennis Miller and Jason Turner.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice awards this honor on National Missing Children’s Day -- today, May 20 -- during a ceremony in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, this year the ceremony had to be scrapped due to COVID-19.
However, the Volusia Sheriff’s Office proudly recognizes these detectives for their exhaustive investigation that led to the local arrest, as well as follow-through that resulted in identifying additional victims in New York state.
“How could anybody do this to a child? I cannot tell you how proud I am of these men and women for what they do. I couldn’t do it,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “Detectives jumped in when they were alerted to it. They definitely stopped him.”
In May 2019, our detectives were alerted late on a Wednesday night about a child exploitation investigation that ultimately led to the home in Deltona and involved the two young female victims.
Detectives worked 15 hours straight to identify the suspect, seek and execute an urgent search warrant, and arrest the suspect. He was charged with capital sexual battery by a person 18 or older with a victim under 12, lewd and lascivious molestation by a person 18 or older, and direct/promote sexual performance by a child.
Our investigation included the VSO’s Child Exploitation, Internet Crimes Against Children, Digital Forensics and Crime Scene units, along with the ICE-Brevard-Volusia Child Exploitation Task Force.
Congratulations to all for their excellent work to protect young victims of sexual abuse.
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