The alertness and diligence of Miami Public Library staff keyed off Miami Police and resulted in an investigation leading to the arrest of two men for lewd and indecent acts with a minor.
MIAMI – A very inappropriate and illegal make-out session on June 24, at the Miami Public Library ended with the arrest of two men.
The alertness and diligence of the library staff keyed off Miami Police and resulted in an investigation leading to the arrest of Chad Laverne Laughlin, 48, of Noel, Missouri, and subsequently Dannon Lane Trujillo, 25, of Miami.
“The library staff called us when they saw an older man and a 14-year-old girl making out in the library. They obviously thought that was odd,” Miami Police Chief Thomas Anderson said. “Patrol went and started investigating, and they turned it over to Detective Aaron Crockett of our Special Victims Unit, and he started looking at it.”
Laughlin met the juvenile female on a phone app and had agreed to meet in the Miami Public Library, according to Anderson.
The Miami Police Department’s responding officers made contact with Laughlin, and the girl and both confirmed they had been kissing and sexually touching each other in the library between book shelves.
On June 26 Crockett spoke to the teen girl and her mother and learned Laughlin had purchased a black Samsung Verizon cell phone around April 25 to communicate with the girl, which she told police she kept hidden in a shoebox in her closet. The girl said her mother and father had no idea.
She told police Laughlin had sent her nude photos and she reciprocated. The detective obtained the phone and a search warrant for the phone records that same day.
The detective discovered Laughlin had used the social media phone apps “Whisper” and “KIK” to meet and communicate with the girl starting when she was 13 years-old, including sending several photos of his penis and videos of himself masturbating.
Laughlin and the teen sent and received a string of approximately 10,000 text messages from April to June of 2017, many of them sexually explicit. Laughlin referred to the girl as “Kitten,” and made plans to meet with her in person.
“Kitten, why regret that, you were 13, I was 47. I already knew you weren't interested in me as more than a friend, but I fell in love anyway,” Laughlin wrote on May 27 after their first meeting in February.
Laughlin began meeting the girl at the Miami Library, outside the Rue 21 store, and behind a building near Will Rogers Middle School.
Laughlin initially told police he believed the girl was 17-years-old when they met, but text messages reveal he knew her true age, and later he confessed to Detective Crocket he knew her real age from the start.
On June 1, Laughlin texted her, “Kitten, I may have found a way, you can even still go to school, but we have to get you a passport... We can emigrate to Israel, you're 100 percent legal there... 14 is the age of consent.”
Detective Crockett also received a search warrant for Laughlin's phone and located nude Snapchat photos of the 14-year-old.
Laughlin was arrested on June 27 and charged in Ottawa County District Court with Lewd Molestation/Lewd Act to a Minor and Rape in the Second Degree.
Laughlin appeared in court on June 28 and 29 and was given a court appointed attorney, Pam Ireland, and his bond was set at $350,000.
During Detective Crockett's search warrant investigation on the 14-year-old girl's phone, he discovered she had also been communicating with Dannon Trujillo using the KIK app.
Using the screen name “Dreava,” Trujillo allegedly sent sexually explicit and violent messages to the juvenile starting from June 10.
“You want to be *** raped at the library. Don't you?” Trujillo using the screen name “Dreava” sent in one text. Many of the other texts are too explicit for print.
On June 30 Miami police detectives used the girl's phone to make contact with Trujillo, who believing he was texting the 14-year-old, sent more sexually explicit texts and asked to meet with her in Rotary Park for sexual contact.
Trujillo appeared at the park that day in a white car at approximately 11 a.m. and texted the girl's phone that he had arrived.
When approached by detectives Trujillo admitted he was there to meet the 14-year-old. He was then transported to the Miami Police Department, read his rights, and arrested for Indecent Exposure- Indecent Exhibitions, Obscene or Indecent Writings, Pictures, Etc., Solicitation of a Minor, and with Soliciting Sexual Conduct or Communication with a Minor by use of Technology.
Trujillo made his first appearance in court on July 3 where he was given a court appointed attorney, and bond was set at $200,000. The Ottawa County Court record indicates Trujillo appeared in court with a blackened left eye and right eye appearing to blacken. That matter was referred to the District Attorney's office.
Trujillo was remanded to custody in the Ottawa County Jail.
Anderson said he did not believe the two men were connected in any way.
The police chief wanted to use the opportunity to remind the public again about the potential misuse and dangers of such cellphone apps.
“They used anonymous apps that we keep warning about. We’ve done several stories to warn and make parents and teens aware that this is going on,” Anderson said. “They’re anonymous and people use them to hook up and it’s easy for kids not to be aware of who they’re talking to. Everybody sounds great online, but when you end up with a 14-year-old girl meeting a 48-year-old truck driver that’s a big problem.”
Anderson credits the arrests on the vigilant and responsible library workers who called MPD dispatch to report the issue, and his detectives for their work on the case.
“They called and said there’s something wrong here and that’s great,” he said. “The detectives did a great job.”
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.