Local News

Cary man arrested in child porn case

Posted October 3, 2009 3:46 p.m. EDT
Updated October 4, 2009 6:25 p.m. EDT

— A Cary man was arrested on child-porn charges after an eight-month investigation by the Cary Police Department’s cybercrimes unit, established in 2007.

Jeffrey Phelps, 41, of 101 Northwoods Village, faces 13 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Police found 13 videos on Phelps’ home computer showing "nude, very young boys" – ranging in age from 8 to 14 years old – "engaged in sexual activity,” according to arrest warrants.

Investigators said Phelps got the files from a Web site for what police call "peer-to-peer child porn."

“These are where individuals are trading files of child porn back and forth with one another,” police spokesman Capt. Mike Williams explained.

Cary's cybercrimes investigators have typically focused on baiting Internet predators, but eight months ago, they decided to start focusing on child-porn trading.

“This is one aspect we could move toward and have a great impact with these types of investigations,” Williams said.

Cary police said they are part of a national network that tracks the trading of child porn over the Internet and can trace it back to specific addresses.

Investigators had enough evidence of activity to get a search warrant for Phelps’ unit in the Hidden Oaks Apartment complex. They seized his computers in July and spent weeks examining them.

“We’ve been doing a forensic exam on the computers to determine exactly what contact was on the computers,” Williams said.

When investigators determined it was child porn, officers tracked down Phelps at Cary's Red Roof Inn and arrested him.

“We’ve made it very clear at the town of Cary that we are going to protect the children of our community and through whatever means we can,” Williams said.

Phelps' arrest is this cybercrime unit's first from Internet child-porn trading.

Police said Phelps worked at a store in Cary Towne Center. They have not yet determined if he made the videos or distributed them.

Phelps was being held in the Wake County Jail Sunday under an $830,000 secured bond. His first court appearance was set for Monday.