Investigator Glenn Wheeler said the Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been investigating a report of a sexual assault last weekend after a woman who was housesitting in the eastern part of the county walked into her underage niece’s bedroom around 5:00 A.M. to find a nude man in bed with the niece. She stated the man appeared to be at least in his thirties. The nude man fled out the window and escaped.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division and Grandma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center began an investigation and interviewed the victim. It was learned that the girl had been in contact with the man, chatting and sending pictures online, both on Facebook Messenger and adult oriented sites that he helped facilitate her becoming a member of. The correspondence indicated the man had driven to the residence and entered the young girl’s bedroom through a window he had instructed her to leave unlocked.
It was discovered that shortly after he fled the house, he contacted her again, via Facebook Messenger. Investigators were given access to her account and continued to correspond with the suspect, who had not yet been identified.
The suspect later set up a meeting with who he believed to be the girl at a specific location and gave a description of the vehicle he would be driving. Investigators set up surveillance in the area and continued to correspond with the suspect.
Shortly after 3:00 A.M. Saturday, June 10th, a vehicle fitting the description given arrived at the agreed upon meeting location and was stopped by Investigators. The vehicle contained specific items the suspect had stated he would bring.
31-year-old Christopher Collins of Mountain Home was taken into custody and was transported to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Collins will be charged with Sexual Assault in the 4th Degree, Residential Burglary and Internet Stalking of a Child. More charges may be pending once the investigation is continued.
Investigator Wheeler stated “Reading the correspondence between the actual girl and Mr. Collins was both sickening and scary. The way he was able to convince her to leave her window unlocked so a 31-year-old man she had never met could sneak in and have sex with her is just unsettling. The potential of what could have happened to this young lady is wide open. Parents really need to be very aware of what their children are doing online.”
Sheriff Keith Slape said “This operation was a great example of agencies working together and having the dedication and patience to spend several late nights seeing this through. It is also a message to sexual predators that law enforcement in Newton County is willing to put in the time and effort needed to stop them from preying on our kids.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division, Grandma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center, The 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Grove Township Constable. The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office will also be asked to help as the investigation moves forward. --END OF RELEASE--