United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
WAYNESVILLE MAN WILL SERVE TEN YEARS IN PRISON FOR ONLINE ENTICEMENT CHARGES The Defendant Believed He Was in Contact With A 15-year-old Boy ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A Waynesville man was sentenced yesterday to serve 120 months in a federal prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release for online enticement charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger also ordered the defendant to register as a sex offender. U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Chief Bill Hollingsed of the Waynesville Police Department.
Eric Robert Murdock, 38, of Waynesville, N.C., was indicted on June 3, 2010, in U.S. District Court on one count of attempting to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce an individual under 18 to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. According to court documents and court proceedings, detectives with the Waynesville Police Department learned that an individual, later discovered to be Eric Murdock, wrote an obscene proposition along with his phone number on the wall of the men’s restroom of the Haywood County Library. The library and restroom are frequented by local school children. Detectives had also received numerous complaints of school children sending and receiving text messages from that phone number, as well as reports from parents who had overheard their children discussing the number.
Court documents indicate that detectives sent a text message to the phone number posing as a 15-year-old boy. Among the text messages exchanged on that day with Murdock, detectives received a text message from Murdock asking the minor to send him a cell phone picture of his genitals. Detectives declined to do so. Murdock then sent an unsolicited picture of what he claimed were his own genitals. Court records indicate that Murdock also requested that the “boy” meet him in the men’s bathroom stall at the Haywood County Library to perform a sex act. When approached by detectives in the bathroom, Murdock fled the scene and scuffled briefly with a detective before he was arrested. Detectives found in Murdock’s possession a cell phone, a condom, and a tube of petroleum jelly.
“This case is another example of how predators will use technology to pray upon innocent young victims,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins stated. “I am grateful to the detectives of the Waynesville Police Department. Their swift response to this threat, and their thorough investigative work helped put Murdock behind bars, where he can no longer harm any children.”
“There is probably nothing we do as police officers more important than protecting the most innocent members of our society,” said Chief Hollingsed. “Unfortunately, we hear and read of cases across the country in which people just don’t want to get involved. In this particular case, a concerned citizen overheard a general conversation between school kids concerning this individual.
They immediately contacted the Waynesville Police Department with that information. Through the work of investigators and the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we were able to take a childpredator off our streets. Protecting our children must remain a priority for community members, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system as a whole,” Chief Hollingsed added.
Murdock pleaded guilty to the offense on December 20, 2010. He has been in local federal custody in the Western District of North Carolina since August 2010. Upon designation of a federal facility, Murdock will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was led by the Waynesville Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Thorneloe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
U.S. v. Eric Robert Murdock,
Case Number 1:10-cr-39-1