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Murder suspect pleads guilty to online sex charge

Posted May 7, 2009

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— A man suspected in the 1997 disappearance of a Carrboro woman has pleaded guilty to trying to seduce underage girls in an online chat room.

Andrew Dalzell, 32, of Gastonia, pleaded guilty to using the Internet to knowingly persuade, induce, entice or coerce a person who is younger than 18 years of age to engage in illegal sexual activity. He will be sentenced later.

Dalzell was arrested in February in Buncombe County after trading messages in a chat room with an undercover officer posing as an 11-year-old. Authorities said the messages discussed performing sex acts.

Five years ago, Dalzell was charged with murdering Debbie Key, who disappeared from the parking lot of a Carrboro pub in December 1997. Her body has never been found.

The two were acquaintances, and Dalzell was reportedly the last person to see Key before her disappearance. Police said Dalzell confessed to the crime.

A judge threw out the confession in 2005, ruling that officers crossed the line by showing him bogus court documents to obtain it. Officers admitted they showed Dalzell a phony arrest warrant and a fake letter that purported to be from the district attorney and said he would seek the death penalty if Dalzell didn't confess to the crime.

Without the confession, prosecutors were forced to drop the murder charge a few months later.


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  • Alexia.1 May 7, 2009

    itsmyownopinion, I'm just pointing out how the laws appear to be broken. I do not want to suggest that it ought to be OK to talk to a 16-year-old, either. But, if the law is that a 16-year-old can have sex, then it seems logical that it should be lawful to discuss the subject to a person of that age. My attention was drawn to the charge of "person who is younger than 18 years of age" -- and why would that not be 16? I just think the laws need to be fixed (and personally, I'd vote for increasing the age of consent).

    I have a whole other rant about police officers going around posing as 11-year-old kids. Some would argue that a serious crime was avoided, but no "real" crime was committed. This is like a real-life Minority Report movie.

  • doubletrouble May 7, 2009

    First off...he was talking to an 11 year old. I believe even if she was 16, there are rules on how old the other party is/can be. After 18 it doesn't matter...but then one would think "morals" would kick in...and some folks just don't have any of those.

  • time4real May 7, 2009

    "Can't they hear his cries?"
    Nope, can't hear stew!

  • itsmyownopinion May 7, 2009

    Paulej, the creep thought he was talking to an eleven (11) year old girl on line, so are you talking to a 16 year old, or just asking an awkward, hypothetical question to clarify the NC General Statute the guy violated?

  • Ptah May 7, 2009

    "Praying for anyone unlucky enough to come within reach of him, online or off." Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Alexia.1 May 7, 2009

    Not that I want to support this fellow, but at what age can a person consent to have sex? I thought it was 16. If that's the case, then why would it be illegal to discuss the matter with if the person is under 18? It's legal to consent at 16, but not legal to discuss it?

    This sounds like a broken law similar to the one where teenagers send nude pictures of themselves and are then in violation of laws distributing child porn.

  • Coach K is still GREAT May 7, 2009

    Once a criminal, always a criminal...

  • TeresaBee May 7, 2009

    Boy I hope if I ever murder anyone I get these stupid officers to interrogate me.

  • Adelinthe May 7, 2009

    Sickening piece of garbage.

    Knows just how to skirt the law to stay out of prison and predate.

    Praying for anyone unlucky enough to come within reach of him, online or off.

    God bless.


  • Glass Half Full May 7, 2009

    Sadly this man will murder again or commit a sexual offense against a young girl before he's ever locked up. Can't they hear his cries?