A Wiregrass man was arrested on sex charges as part of a statewide sting operation conducted by the Gulf Shores Police Department. As a result, 23 people in the tri-states were indicted, including Winston Henley of Opp.
News 4 spoke with Winston Henley’s neighbors, where they simply know him Roy at the Opp trailer park where they live. He seemed like a quiet, nice guy. But now one family is particularly alarmed.
Sixteen-year-old Mandi Harrison, like most teenagers her age, can often be found on the computer. In fact, she and her 11-year-old brother Brad have gone to their neighbor's mobile home on several occasions.
That neighbor, 35-year-old Winston Henley, is now charged by the Gulf Shores Police Department with soliciting a child for sexual purposes by computer. Undercover police officers posed as 13 and 14-year-old children on the Internet.
"It was a real surprise. I always get on the computer. I never thought that he was like that. You never know," said Mandi.
Her brother Brad said, "I get on the computer like her. I just never taught that he would do that."
The children's mother, Lisa Harrison, says she had worked with Henley for years in enterprise. She had no idea, and is shocked.
"I never even dreamed of him like that. It seems so unbelievable to me even now," said Lisa Dickerson
Authorities say such people can come from a small town like Opp, Alabama, or Seattle, Washington, or really anywhere from around the world. Authorities say the important thing is to get them off the street and behind bars.
"Find out where your child lives, what your child likes; once they learn this they move in. It’s important as parents to know this and be prepared," said Assistant Police Chief Mike McDonald.
Gulf Shores authorities thanked nearly two-dozen different departments including Opp police for their help in arresting a total of 23 suspects in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. The entire investigation took around two months. Authorities say they have arrested just a fraction of those individuals who will commit crimes on children.
Police and childcare workers say there are thousands of chat rooms on the Internet and remind parents to monitor their children's online activities.