A Mount Airy man is being held in the Surry County Jail on 10 felony charges relating to his alleged possession of child pornography.
The arrest of Jerry Dean Johnson Jr., 36, of 619-E Creed St., occurred through a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the Mount Airy Police Department.
That tip alerted local authorities to possible illegal Internet and cyber activity involving Johnson which led to his arrest.
Even before that, Johnson had drawn the attention of city police, according to Capt. Alan Freeman.
“We had already started an investigation on this individual,” Freeman added Thursday. “We had been looking at some stuff that had been going on with the family. It was actually an ongoing investigation.”
The cyber tip received via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lent credence to suspicions surfacing during that inquiry, Freeman indicated.
“When this came in, it sort of confirmed some information that we believed was already taking place,” he said. “That was like additional information.”
Due to the case taking a cyber-related turn, local authorities called in the State Bureau of Investigation to assist. “We got the SBI involved when we realized we were going to look at (Johnson’s) computer, and they’re experts on this,” Freeman said.
That led to both local and state investigators going to Johnson’s home earlier this month. They recovered illegal content stored on a computer seized from the residence, Freeman said, with the type of material involved not specified.
Johnson subsequently was charged with 10 felony counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of minors and confined in the county jail under a $250,000 secured bond.
His arrest was reported Thursday, weeks after authorities had obtained the computer from Johnson’s home.
Freeman said the delay was due to making sure “loose ends” in the case were tied in order to bring charges against the man.
Johnson is scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children seeks to combat child sexual victimization through a number of ways. These include working with electronic service providers to identify possible offenders and banks and credit card companies to shut down the money flow associated with exploitation.
A congressionally mandated CyberTipline also is maintained by the organization to allow the reporting of crimes against children, including the possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.