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Press Release

Man Who Bound And Raped Au Pair Pleads No Contest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

Winfree planned to kill the woman and hide her body to avoid prosecution

          LANSING, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that Arisknight Arkin-Everett Winfree, 31, of East Lansing, plead no contest to the five counts against him; kidnapping, coercing and enticing someone to travel for the purposes of illegal sexual activity, attempted coercion and enticement, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. A no contest plea is a defendant's admission that while he does not want to plead guilty, the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to convict him of the crimes. Winfree faces a potential maximum sentence of life in prison. The previous release announcing the indictment against Winfree can be viewed here.                  

          “Winfree posed a danger to the whole world from his home here in West Michigan,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “My office will do everything in its power to seek out and prosecute perpetrators like him, who use the Internet to exploit others. To victims, we stand ready to listen and to protect. And to everyone who uses the internet, be vigilant: you never know for sure who is on the other side of the screen.”

          Prior to accepting the no contest plea, the Court required the United States to identify what evidence it would have presented at trial. That evidence included that Winfree used the website to create a fake listing to lure au pairs to his home, where he intended to sexually assault them. A woman from Kansas came and escaped after her parents called the police. An Italian au pair came, and Winfree handcuffed, bound, and raped her. He then spoke with his friend Paul Heiselman, indicating to Heiselman he intended to kill the Italian woman and dispose of her body to avoid detection or prosecution. Winfree also pled no contest to two counts of producing child pornography, after he coerced 16- and 17-year-old girls to send him nude images through social media apps. He picked up the 17-year-old from school and recorded himself having sex with her. The complete statement of facts outlining what the United States would have presented at trial is attached to this press release.

          Today, the Court also sentenced Winfree’s friend, Paul Heiselman, 33, of Ann Arbor, to 41 months for possessing some of the child pornography Winfree produced. After receiving one of those videos of child pornography, Heiselman remarked, “she ready for the cams,” an apparent reference to creating amateur pornography for wider distribution.

          “The collective investigative efforts of the FBI and East Lansing Police Department prevented Mr. Winfree from potentially victimizing countless other young women, said” Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “We remain grateful for the bravery of the victims for coming forward to law enforcement. This case is stark reminder of the dangers and reach predators have through online methods, and how vigilant we must be while using the internet.”

          This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor's offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following website: Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

          The Winfree and Heiselman cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Davin Reust, and they were investigated by the East Lansing Police Department and the FBI.


Updated April 10, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime