New Castle News

Closer Look

April 11, 2014

Officers wear Amish women’s garb to lure suspect

NEW CASTLE — Two police officers posing as Amish women tried to catch a man who reportedly was exposing himself to Amish children.

Despite their efforts, they didn’t catch him. However, they had a description of his vehicle and believe the suspect is the same person who was placed on house arrest in Mercer County at the end of January for similar acts in 2013.

After that man’s sentencing in late January, the local incidents stopped, according to Sgt. Chad Adams of the Pulaski Township police.

Catching the man in Pulaski was difficult, Adams explained, because he would drive along country roads and target Amish children who had no means of contacting anyone about it. The man would stop and get out of the vehicle and show his private parts to the children, Adams said.

Adams was alerted to the incidents by parents, who were upset and feared for their children’s safety. He said the incidents took place throughout January, when almost daily he would drive along Heather Heights and Cotton roads.

Adams said he initiated the idea of dressing as an Amish woman as a way to try to bait the man. He has not filed charges against the suspect, he explained, because he did not have concrete evidence.

He summoned help from a female Wampum police officer, and the Amish families provided the two with the women’s outfits so they could walk along the road in the hopes that the man would approach them.

Adams said officers from New Wilmington and Neshannock had assisted in patrols and surveillance in the area.

The police said they knew the man’s vehicle and followed him every day while he was going down the road and driving around, but they never saw him actually approaching anyone, Adams said. “We wanted to catch him in the act.”

The Amish parents didn’t want their children to testify in court. So, after a couple of weeks of surveillance, Adams asked the parents if he could use the women’s outfits.

“They agreed and set me up with something that fit. They had us hooked up with bonnets, aprons, dresses and shawls.”

He and the Wampum officer — with their duty belts, handcuffs and radios hidden — dressed in the outfits every day for a couple of weeks and would walk along the roads in frigid temperatures where the man had been seen.

“We figured if he was driving down the road and saw what he thought were Amish women walking he wouldn’t notice I was a guy until he got out of the vehicle,” Adams said.

“I didn’t care what anyone else thought,” he continued. “I felt this guy was pretty much a predator who was preying on kids who had no means of communication. Basically, it’s all Amish population through there.”

“It was frustrating seeing him in the area,” Adams said, “because we wanted to catch him without involving the children.”

Adams said the person arrested in Mercer County was picked up after exposing himself to a child who reported the man’s license plate number. That man’s house arrest is for a minimum of three months.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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