EXETER, California. (KGPE) – Exeter Police are warning parents about how easily their children can be targeted by predators after a 16-year-old girl was tricked into sending explicit photos to a man across the country.
“It’s scary how fast this can happen,” said Exeter Police Chief John Hall.
In a matter of hours, Hall says the teenager was sending sexually graphic pictures to a stranger against her will.
Hall says it started in January when a man named Joshua Bloodworth reached out to the teen on a popular phone app.
Police say Bloodworth sent nudes of another teenage girl, claiming to be the one in the pictures. Soon, police say he was convincing the victim to do the same.
“As soon as he received those initial nude photos, however, his demeanor immediately changed. It became obvious he wasn’t who he was reporting himself to be, and he threatened the victim to send more explicit photos, otherwise, he was going to send the original photo to family and friends,” said Hall.
Exeter Police say they tracked Bloodworth down to Marion, Illinois.
That’s when the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce stepped in and performed a search of his home. Detectives say they found evidence inside of the home connecting Bloodworth with the case.
Bloodworth was taken into custody following the search.
Hall says investigators also found there were more victims in other states.
“Most teenagers are universal in the belief of, ‘These bad things are going to happen to me.’ And we need to make sure that we remind them and tell them, it very well can happen to you,” said Hall.
Because Bloodworth’s crimes crossed state lines and involved multiple victims, police say they may be combined into one larger case and be charged and prosecuted federally.