Task force detectives in Nixa help nab sex criminals who prey on children

NIXA, Mo - As cyber-crimes become more advanced, so is the software being used to track down criminals.

"He has software that goes out onto the Internet and searches for people that are sharing child pornography. His computer is able to identify those images and he starts an investigation," said Detective Billy Miller with the Nixa Police Department.

The Nixa PD's Cyber Crimes Taskforce uses this advanced software to pinpoint people using these harmful material.

"Here in Nixa, last year we had about 187 cases of distribution and this year we are on pace to surpass this. At the mid-year point we had about 100," said Miller.

The number of people caught making child pornography has tripled..  It's a crime that tends to affect local children the most.

"The manufacturing means that they have a victim there with them and are making the porn on scene but with the distribution, it's still a crime and it's still victimizing those children but what they are doing is sharing images and distribution with other people," Miller said.

But don't let the numbers fool you. Detectives say this increase could be caused by several factors.

"I do believe that there is an increase in the crime but I think our numbers are probably more indicative that we have a detective that's spending more time looking for those types of crimes," said Miller.

But making an arrest is just the beginning. Local child advocates say sex crimes involving children can affect a community long after a predator is behind bars.

"Unfortunately, sometimes kids have to testify in court and that's a very scary thing for any person let alone a child and we help them through that process so they are better equipped when the time comes for them to go to court," said Brandi Bartel, Executive Director of the Victim Center in Springfield.

And using these community resources is something directors at the Victim Center say is vital for healing.

"Crime impacts not just a person but an entire community because those kids grow up to be adults someday and we want our community filled with thriving individuals so having the victims center and many other organizations in town equipped with the resources that they need is vital because that means a more thriving community for everyone," Bartel said.

Most recently Nixa detectives helped with an investigation leading to the arrest of 52-year old Richard Blackwell in Stone County. He was charged on Aug. 30 with possession of child pornography.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of child abuse or child sexual abuse you can contact the Victim Center for help. They offer counseling services to both victims and families to help victims overcome these traumatic crimes. They can be reached at (417) 863 - 7273 or their 24-hour hotline at (417) 684 - SAFE.