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For this account, both Deery and J were willing to speak openly and at length; transcripts of online chats and police interrogations have also been made available.
The story reflects what they said about themselves and their actions, and presents two very different points of view.
Shortly before six o’clock on the evening of Monday, September 19, 2005, Deery went to work in her cave, logging on to Yahoo and expertly navigating its public chat rooms.
In one of the many rooms labeled “fetish,” she logged on with the suggestive screen name “heatherscutiepies.” At this time of day the weirdos were coming home from work, bellying up to their home computers.
But was he just playing a twisted game of seduction?As a fantasy, her come-on seemed overbaked—not one daughter, but two!It is doubtful that such a woman exists anywhere, and yet men fell for it. The bulletin board over her desk displays mug shots of her catches, very ordinary-looking men, facing the camera wide-eyed with shock, staring at the fresh ruin of their lives. One of the stunned faces in that array belongs to a man I will call “J,” who would spend a year in prison after taking Deery’s bait.Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth, in a case that challenges the conventional wisdom about online sexual predators, and blurs the lines among crime, “intent,” and enticement.
Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania.
The goal was to identify the latter, hook them, and then reel them in, turn them into “travelers.” Once a traveler took that all-important step out of fantasy and into the real world, his behavior went from the merely immoral to the overtly criminal.