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N.Y. child porn suspect found after Pinellas manhunt


Published:   |   Updated: March 28, 2014 at 04:02 PM

A New York man accused of producing child pornography was apprehended by authorities Friday, ending a manhunt that began hours earlier when he was briefly detained by Pinellas Park police.

Pinellas Park police said 25-year-old Jesse Sawyer Jr. was in custody and being transported for processing. Police have not released where Sawyer was found.

A March 18 federal arrest warrant was issued for Sawyer, of Troy, N.Y., after he was accused of raping three young children and taking “selfies” of the attacks with his cellphone, authorities said.

On Thursday night, Pinellas Park police said they received information Sawyer was at Calvary Chapel, 8900 U.S. 19 N., and made contact with him, where he was “cooperative.” Sawyer was detained at the time but not in custody, police said.

Officers initiated warrant confirmation procedures with the FBI but received no response to the request, police said, so they called the FBI on the telephone.

“The person we spoke to at the FBI could not confirm the warrant and was making telephone calls to an unidentified agent to confirm this,” Pinellas Park police Sgt. Adam Geissenberger said in a news release. After an hour, police decided to release Sawyer because they did not receive confirmation, he said.

“A short while later we received confirmation,” he said.

Officers returned to the area of the church and learned Sawyer was gone and a manhunt began, Geissenberger said.

Troy police said they received a call about 10:30 p.m. Thursday from someone who noticed Sawyer had signed into the Calvary Chapel mission. The agency said the caller identified Sawyer’s name from Facebook posts, then called Troy police. Troy police notified Pinellas Park authorities of the tip.

Troy police told WTEN-TV in Albany at least one of Sawyer’s victims was younger than 5. Police learned of the photographs from an acquaintance of Sawyer, who saw them on a computer Sawyer had used.

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