Hope Mills, N.C. — A former military intelligence officer was arrested on Friday afternoon and charged with trying to meet a child with autism so they could have sex, Cumberland County authorities said.
William Jerry Faulkner Jr., 47, of 3872 Red Oak Drive in Hope Mills, was arrested at a Linden convenience store near a mini-storage facility that he manages.
"He was expecting a handicapped child in a car with their mother," said Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. Instead, he was met by two deputies.
Tanna said investigators were tipped off to an advertisement on Craigslist seeking a single mother with custody of a special-needs child. The poster offered to pay the woman, up to thousands of dollars, in exchange for turning the child over, authorities said.
Undercover deputies set up the meeting which led to Friday's arrest.
"It is a very sad day in Cumberland County when we are hurting any of our children, but especially our handicapped children," Tanna said. She said the suspect might have targeted a victim who would be less likely to report his crime.
"He knew they were not of sound mind and body to be able to speak for themselves in a court of law or to defend themselves against him or an attack," she said.
Faulkner is the father of a disabled child, authorities said, and a sticker on the front door of his Hope Mills home indicates a child with autism lives there but doesn't respond to verbal directions.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said Faulkner is the first person to be charged under a 2012 state law enacted in the wake of Shaniya Davis' death.
The 5-year-old Fayetteville girl was allegedly traded to pay off a drug debt and was raped and killed by Mario Andrette McNeill in November 2008. He was convicted in May and is now on death row. Shaniya's mother will be tried this fall for her role in the case.
The state law makes the unlawful sale, surrender or purchase of a minor a Class F felony.
Faulkner, who will make a court appearance Monday at 2:30 p.m., also was charged with taking indecent liberties with a child. He was in the Cumberland County jail Saturday under a $75,000 bond.
Authorities said they don't know if he's ever actually obtained a child for sex, but that there are indications he may have made similar solicitations in the past.
"This guy had done a lot of his homework," Tanna said.