GREENSBURG, Ind. — Greensburg mother who posed as her teen son on Facebook was instrumental in the arrest of an alleged sexual predator, police say.
The mother, who does not want to be named, told CBS4 Indy she was instantly suspicious when her 17-year-old son showed her several direct Facebook messages he had received from a man he didn’t know.
“Can you talk? l’ll pay you,” the mother quoted one message as saying. “And my first thought was why would you pay a kid to talk to you?”
But she says it soon became clear that Byron Caudill, 40, Milan, was offering her son $200 to allow Caudill to perform a sex act on him.
“I was just so angry,” she said. “I think I was in shock and it was just everything that you could possibly feel at that time. I was just ready to explode.”
After reading the first message, she began exchanging more messages with Caudill, while pretending to be her son. Soon, she had set the wheels in motion to set Caudill up to be arrested.
Posing as her teenage son, she exchanged several messages with Caudill. She lead Caudill to believe that her son was desperate to make $200 to help him buy a car.
Caudill: “What are u willing to do”
Teen: “what r u wanting for 200”
Caudill: “I want to know what you’re willing to do first”
Teen: “not more than I really have to”
The back-and-forth continued as the mother brought Greensburg Police into the situation.
“I can’t say enough good about mom,” said Greensburg Police Detective Bill Meyerrose. “She was on board with this investigation from the beginning. And whatever we needed as far as the investigation, she was more than willing to help us do.”
The mother and police were eventually able arrange a meeting with Caudill, which was originally set to take place at the Greensburg Quality Inn. Caudill had agreed to pay the teen $200 if he would allow Caudill to perform a sex act on him.
But before the meeting, Caudill seemed to get nervous.
Caudill: “Is this a set up”
Teen: “Lol no. I really need the $”
Caudill: “Is this just a one time thing”
Teen: “depends on how it is. so i’ll be there about 10”
Caudill: “U will like it”
Still apparently nervous about meeting at the hotel, Caudill changed the meeting arrangement. The teen was to wait in the parking lot of the Greensburg Tractor Supply Store, next door to the Quality Inn. Undercover police, waiting in the parking lot, say they watched Caudill drive to an ATM in the parking lot. After pulling $200 out of the machine, he pulled his car to the back of the parking. They say he sat in the car with the lights turned off.
“But the driver kept their foot on the brake because the brake lights stayed on,” according to court documents.
Minutes later, Caudill started to drive away and police pulled him over. Caudill was handcuffed and taken to the Greensburg Police Department for an interview. During that interview, court documents state Caudill admitted to contacting the teen and offering to pay $200 for Caudill to perform a sex act.
Caudill was arrested in a preliminary charge of promoting prostitution. A formal charge of human trafficking of a minor, a level 3 Felony, was later filed in Decatur County Court.
Investigators later obtained a search warrant for Caudill’s home and recovered a computer and cell phone. Those devices were given to Indiana State Police for examination. If investigators find other incriminating evidence, additional charges could be filed.
“I’m glad I got you,” the teen’s mother told CBS4 Indy. “I’m glad I got you before you hurt my kid, before you hurt anybody else’s kid that I know of.”
Meyerrose says the case is a prime example of how communication and proactive parents can help protect young people from sexual predators.
“The young man did what he should have done by going to mom,” Meyerrose said. “And mom did exactly what she should have done by getting us involved.”
“I’m proud of him,” the mother said of her son. “He did the right thing all the way around, He was very smart, he did an awesome job all the way around.”