Police: Man arrested after offering cash for sex act with teen

Caudill

GREENSBURG – A Milan man’s alleged attempt to trade cash for a sex act with a teenage boy was thwarted when police and the boy’s mother posed as the teen and set up a scenario that led to the suspect’s arrest this week.

Greensburg Police arrested Byron Caudill, 40, of the 1400 block of Milan Versailles Pike in Milan, late Wednesday after exchanging Facebook messages with Caudill that indicated the suspect planned to meet with the teen to engage in a sex act, according to court documents. Caudill was led to believe he was communicating with the teen throughout the course of the criminal investigation.

Caudill was charged with promotion of human trafficking of a minor, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison, following his arrest. Police said the suspect admitted to police that he offered $200 cash to a 17-year-old boy in order to perform oral sex on the teen. Police arrested Caudill on a preliminary charge of promoting prostitution, which is a Level 4 felony. Promotion of human trafficking of a minor is a Level 3 felony and carries a longer potential sentence in the event of a conviction.

The investigation began Saturday, Oct. 25, when police were contacted by the mother of the intended victim in the case. The woman said her son was contacted by Caudill via Facebook messenger and that he told her he neither knew Caudill nor wished to have any communication with him. The teenager said Caudill asked if the boy wanted to make some money.

The woman briefly posed as her son and exchanged messages with Caudill until police arrived at her residence, according to court documents.

Police prompted the mother in the communications as Caudill allegedly asked for a photo of the teen and asked what the teen would be willing to do in exchange for $200 cash. Investigators posing as the teenager informed Caudill that the boy was not yet 18.

Dozens of messages were exchanged before Caudill agreed to meet with the teen. The final message, sent shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, uses a slang term to ask if the teen has previously engaged in oral sex. No response from the teen's Facebook account was sent as police set in motion a plan to arrest Caudill.

Police acquired two rooms at a local hotel, and while posing as the teenager by using his Facebook messenger, tried to set up a meeting there.

Messages archived and held as evidence by police indicate Caudill suspected a ruse.

"I feel like this is a set up that the cop are waiting to arrest me," a message from Caudill read verbatim, according to court documents.

"no im here watching dumb and dumber lol," came the response from investigators.

Caudill later sent a message asking the teen to come to his car. After further discussion, Caudill agreed to meet the boy in the parking lot in the 1900 block of Greensburg Crossing.

An officer pretending to be the teen walked through the parking lot in an attempt to meet with Caudill, but police said the suspect did not exit his vehicle. Detectives in unmarked cars joined other officers in observing Caudill’s actions. Sergeant Mike McNealy was able to positively link Caudill to the license plate of the vehicle he was driving and initiated a traffic stop. At that time, Caudill was handcuffed and taken to the Greensburg Police Department for questioning.

Earlier in the investigation, police linked Caudill to a previous case during which the suspect is alleged to have contacted a male teenager and offered money in exchange for an unspecified favor. No further contact occurred.

Investigators said Caudill’s Facebook page states the suspect lives in Ripley County, so Greensburg Police reached out to the Ripley County Sheriff’s Department. A representative of that department said they had previously encountered Caudill and had investigated a report late last month that involved Caudill allegedly asking a 16-year-old boy if he was willing to make heterosexual pornography. Communication between Caudill and that teenager ceased at that time, police said.

Police seized Caudill’s cell phone at the time of his arrest and later conducted a search at his Milan residence. A tablet and a laptop computer were taken as evidence there.

Caudill appeared in court Friday where a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf. Court records state the suspect intends to acquire counsel prior to his next appearance set for 9 a.m. Nov. 24 in Circuit Court. He remained jailed in lieu of a $7,500 cash bond at press time Friday.

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; brent.brown@greensburgdailynews.com

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