CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – A Shelby, N.C. man has been charged with sex crimes, including human trafficking.
Investigators said the victims are two 14-year-old girls from Blacksburg.
7News spoke with the detective who cracked the case by turning the tables on the suspected child predator.
Detective Matthew Sadler, with the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, was able to lure the suspect into another rendezvous, only this time officers were there to put him in handcuffs, getting justice for the 14-year-old who said she was raped.
“She’s still having a hard time with it. It’s very difficult for her to talk about it. She’s very emotional. And just like with most victims where she had to get to a point where she felt like could disclose to someone,” Sadler said.
The sheriff’s office said Derrell Davion Russell, 26, friended the girl on Facebook and lured her and her twin sister from Blacksburg to his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina, where the sex crimes occurred.
The girls eventually confided in a school resource officer here in Blackburg who connected them with investigators in Shelby.
Detective Sadler armed himself with the girl’s cell phone, using it to continue undercover correspondence with Russell eventually coaxing him to meet up outside a Shelby Elementary school.
“I think he was surprised that he was set up. Just like everybody, they’re surprised,” Sadler said.
For Blacksburg parents like Charles Cloninger, who also has a 14-year-old daughter, the shocking news hits close to home.
“For somebody in Shelby to do that and then take some innocent girls from this city and take them back up there trafficking. That just hit me to the core,” Clonginger said.
Sadler said if there’s one thing he hopes sticks with parents, it’s the real danger of predators on social media.
“This is a great cautionary tale to children and to families. This is what can happen,” Sadler said.
Russell has been charged with kidnapping, human trafficking a child victim, statutory rape and several other crimes. He’s being held at the Cleveland County Detention Center on $1 million bond.
Investigators said there could be more victims. They urge anyone to come forward by calling the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office at (704) 484-4888.