A 62-year-old El Campo man has been apprehended for aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony, and violation of parole by the Wharton Police Department after the agency elicited help from the public through social media.
Jeffery Alan Richie has been wanted by law enforcement for the alleged offenses following a report filed with WPD on Aug. 21.
‘This is just another example of how the police and the public can work together for the greater good.’
According to Wharton Police Department Public Information Officer Det. Ariel Soltura, the alleged offense occurred two years ago in Wharton.
“Due to the child’s age, we are not identifying her or her exact relation to Richie (in order to protect her identity),” Soltura told The County Gin. ”It’s a family member and the assault occurred when she was about 11 years old in March of 2018. It occurred here in Wharton and throughout the course of the investigation, probable cause was developed. It was one instance, not continuous.”
After the alleged assault was reported on Aug. 21, 2020, the victim was forensically examined and interviewed. Detectives also interviewed other family members to establish probable cause.
“It was determined that probable cause existed,” Soltura said, adding that the department issued a warrant for Richie’s arrest on Oct. 20.
It soon became clear to law enforcement that Richie was not cooperating and WPD posted his mugshot on Facebook, asking for the public’s assistance.
“We were attempting to locate him after several unsuccessful attempts to make contact,” Soltura said. “I made numerous attempts to speak to Mr. Richie, but it became clear to us that he was evasive.”
The department’s outreach was crucial in Richie’s arrest.
“The time frame between the post and his apprehension was within hours,” he told The Gin. “Public influence absolutely helped. We are a department that understands that we can’t do this job alone and we are always looking to partner with our community through social media. This is just another example of how the police and the public can work together for the greater good.”
Soltura added that the department welcomes information from the public in the prevention of crime and pursuit of justice.
“Any future tips can always come in anonymously through the P3 app, which allows our citizens to reach East Wharton County Crime Stoppers anonymously,” he said, “and all (informants) are eligible for a possible cash reward that leads to the arrest and successful prosecution of somebody who is wanted.”
To stay informed on the latest from local law enforcement, follow the Wharton Police Department on Facebook.