A massive joint investigation between Somervell County Sheriff’s Department, Parker County Sheriff’s Office, McLennan County Sheriff’s Department and the Texas Rangers resulted in the arrest of James Ray Smith, 41, last week for online solicitation of a minor less than 14 years of age.
Lt. Anders Dahl with the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department said the investigation began last year.
“Our investigation started back in August and involved a juvenile female,” Dahl said.
He was contacted by the Parker County Sheriff’s Department in the fall by an investigator who felt he had a related case. The agencies worked together and began piecing together bits of information.
“There was a tremendous number of law enforcement agencies working on this,” Dahl said. “It was a difficult case. We were dealing with TracFones (prepaid cell phone), which are difficult to deal with because no identification is required to buy a TracFone. The calls were sporadic and all over Texas.”
Investigator Mark Arnett with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, said at least three different phone numbers were tied to the investigation, all originating in Glen Rose.
“What ended up breaking the case was a woman who heard about the phone calls on the Internet,” Dahl said.
The woman, who was also allegedly contacted by Smith, traced a phone number through a Web site, www.whocallsme.com.
On the site, she traced one of the numbers to a blog entry connecting Smith to the number.
Based on evidence provided by the woman, a search warrant was obtained and officers from Parker and Somervell counties and a Texas Ranger confronted Smith at the Glen Rose Inn and Suites on Thursday, Feb. 19.
Parker County was able to get an arrest warrant after more evidence was collected from Smith’s room.
Dahl said he believes Smith will likely face additional charges from McLennan County and could also face charges in Young and Wise counties.
He said his investigation is still pending and he has identified at least one juvenile victim in Somervell. Dahl encourages anyone who thinks they have been contacted by Smith to call the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department at 897-2242.
Arnett said Parker County officials began their investigation in October 2008 and contacted the Waco Police Department. An investigator there connected the case to the Somervell investigation.
Other victims have been reported in Ellis, Denton, Dallas and Palo Pinto counties. Arnett said four female victims have been identified in Parker County, three of whom are under 17. McLennan County has identified five victims to date.
Smith was transported back to Parker County on the solicitation charge, which is a second-degree felony. He faces two to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 bond if convicted.
Smith is still being held in the Parker County Jail.