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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Non-Indian Man from Vanderwagon Facing Federal Sexual Abuse and Kidnapping Charges Involving Navajo Child

Defendant Prosecuted Under Project Safe Childhood and Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – William Detwiler, 67, a non-Indian who resides in Vanderwagon, N.M., made his initial appearance today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., on an indictment charging him with child sexual abuse and kidnapping charges.  Detwiler remains in federal custody pending an arraignment and detention hearing, which are scheduled for tomorrow.

The charges against Detwiler were announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, and New Mexico State Police Chief Pete N. Kassetas.

The four-count indictment, filed by a grand jury on May 24, 2016, charges Detwiler with two counts of aggravated child sexual assault and two counts of kidnapping.  According to the indictment, Detwiler kidnapped an Indian child under the age of 16 years and sexually abused the victim in Nov. 2013.  It alleges that Detwiler kidnapped and sexually abused the victim again on a date between Nov. 2013 and June 2014.  Detwiler allegedly committed the four crimes on the Navajo Indian Reservation in McKinley County, N.M.

If convicted, Detwiler faces a penalty of a statutory mandatory minimum 30 years to a maximum of life in prison on each of the aggravated sexual assault charges and a statutory mandatory minimum of 20 years to a maximum of life in prison on each of the kidnapping charges.  Detwiler’s penalty on the aggravated sexual assaults charges may be enhanced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment based on his prior conviction for criminal sexual contact with a minor. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Gallup office of the FBI and the New Mexico State Police.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Marshall as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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

The case also is being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution.  Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.  Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates under this initiative.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Updated June 1, 2016