The Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Office teamed up with police from Utah to catch an internet child predator on Tuesday.
Deputies said they got an initial request on Monday from the Washington State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to contact the Layton City Police Department in Utah regarding a “traveler” case.
A “traveler” is a person who meets young children on the internet and entices them into meeting for sex. Officials said often the “travelers” communicate with the children for weeks before meeting them.
Deputies said Robert W. Folsom, 24, of Spokane, made plans to travel to Layton City, Utah, to victimize a 14-year-old girl. The father of the victim discovered the relationship by going through the victim’s phone.
Deputies said after the father alerted authorities, the investigation discovered Folsom traveled to Utah at least three times from February to July of 2015, meeting with the victim for the purpose of unlawful sexual activity.
On Tuesday investigators planned to arrest Folsom and extradite him to Utah to stand trial, but said Folsom had been reported missing after a hand written suicide note from him was found.
Authorities in Spokane believed Folsom may have been traveling back to Utah to contact the victim, so they reached out to Utah authorities and told them to set up surveillance of the victim’s residence.
The victim’s father, when given Folsom’s vehicle description by authorities, told them that Folsom’s vehicle was parked down the street from his home. When police arrived a standoff ensued as Folsom ignored commands to exit the vehicle, officials said.
When police attempted to take Folsom into custody they said he stabbed and cut himself with a knife several times. He was taken to the hospital and was last listed in critical condition.
Utah authorities have charged Folsom with 14 felony charges including:
- 2 Counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- 8 Counts of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor
- 1 Count of Dealing in Harmful Material to a Minor by an Adult
- 3 Counts of Enticing a Minor
The investigation is ongoing.