An alleged child sex predator who had been sought by Homeland Security Investigations special agent has been caught - and social sharing of the story played a pivotal role in the capture.
Less than two days after ABC 7 News aired a story about the "John Doe" who was shown in a video having sex with a young boy, the man was captured in Stockton, Calif.
Nearly immediately after the story was posted to WJLA.com on Thursday evening, people made urgent pleas to post it, share it and tweet it - and active social media users sprang into action. Countless Facebook users shared the link, spreading the story all over the country, spawning thousands of views of the story.
Finally, officials say that a tip from a former child welfare advocate in Northern Virginia who saw the story on Facebook, conducted his own research and led authorities to to the suspect. Authorities then contacted Facebook, got a search warrant and made an arrest.
The suspect, Timothy Valdez, who officials say is from Modesto, Calif., is accused of producing multiple pornographic videos involving a young boy, allegedly to gain access to an underground child porn network. He is also believed to be the father of a toddler.
However, the video, which Danish officials discovered last December, led to very little clues about his identity. A wanted poster put out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement only had a series of pictures, a description and a pseudonym he presumably went by - "Tim."
Investigators say his capture not only protects the child or children he allegedly sexually abused, but could also lead to the arrests of other predators involved in the same child sex ring.
For any tips to authorities who suspect anything suspicious, call: 1-866-DHS-2ICE