Facts and Figures 2003

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Crimes Against Children

The FBI provides a rapid and effective investigative response to reported federal crimes involving child victims, such as kidnappings, sexual assaults, sexual exploitation of children, international parental kidnappings, and Child Support Recovery Act matters.

On-line child pornography and child sexual exploitation are the largest crimes against children problems confronting the FBI. To respond, the FBI started the Innocent Images National Initiative. Innocent Images is a proactive on-line undercover operation designed to prevent child pornography and child sexual exploitation committed via the Internet and on-line services, to identify and rescue witting and unwitting child victims, to identify and prosecute child sexual offenders, and to create an on-line environment where would-be offenders are deterred because of the possibility of communicating with undercover law enforcement Agents.

INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL KIDNAPPING: MOHAMAD SALAH HAMOUDA
On April 25, 2000, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was notified of a potential International Parental Kidnapping case by Mary Hamouda, the mother of three children, ages ten, six, and four. Mary and her husband Mohamad Salah Hamouda were going through a divorce. Mary had physical custody and a final custody order had not been issued. The couple had a written agreement, arranged by their lawyers, that Mohamad would have the children from the evening of April 21, 2000, through the evening of April 22. On April 23, the children did not report for school. On April 27, Mary filed a complaint with her local police department regarding the kidnapping of her children. Mohamad had been born in Lebanon, and she feared that he most likely fled to that country. The next day a police sergeant brought the case to the attention of an FBI Agent detailed to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and asked the FBI for assistance. It was determined that Mohamad and the children had taken a flight to Lebanon.

The FBI contacted relatives of Mohamad, including his brother Samir. On June 12, Mohamad contacted his brother in the United States. Samir notified the FBI that Mohamad had called and was planning to call him again in approximately one hour. FBI Agents arrived at Samir's home and spoke with Mohamad when he called to speak with his brother. Mohamad said he planned to return to the United States, arriving at Dulles Airport in Virginia on June 18. Upon his arrival, Mohamad was arrested and the children were re-united with their mother.

CASE STUDY: MULTIPLE CHILD ABDUCTIONS

In the spring of 2001, a young girl playing outside her apartment in Louisiana was abducted by an unidentified man in a van. The local FBI field office quickly set up a 24-hour command center at the local police department. Neighborhood searches were conducted via the ground and air. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the America's Most Wanted television show gave the case media publicity. A few days later an employee at a bus station recognized the girl and called the police. The girl was recovered alive-thanks to well-orchestrated, cooperative action between law enforcement, the media, and the public.

The investigation revealed that the kidnapper drove the girl to a remote hunting cabin where he repeatedly raped her. He then drove to a bus station with the intention of putting her on a bus back to her hometown.

The FBI believed this kidnapping might be related to another kidnapping which had occurred a month earlier. In that case, another young girl was taken from outside her Texas residence by an unknown white male. She was held at a remote cabin for six days, sexually assaulted, then driven back to her neighborhood and released.

Interviews of both girls revealed similarities in the description of the cabin.

Wanted poster for Richard Steve GoldbergA month later another Texas girl was reported missing to the FBI. She was last seen getting off a school bus and talking to a white male who was driving a white car. A witness observed the girl enter the car and drive away with the subject. Based on the similarities in the subject's description, the FBI believed this incident was related to the two earlier cases. The FBI established a local command post.

Two days later a vehicle used during the abduction was described as being light colored with a Texas license plate. FBI Houston disseminated a composite of the kidnapper, and students from a Houston elementary school reported they had been approached by an individual fitting the suspect's description. The students thought this man's actions were strange and wrote down his license plate number. The FBI traced the car to its registered owner and interviewed him. They learned that the car was recently sold to a white male, possibly a transient, who paid cash for the car. No identifying information on the subject was obtained, which is apparently common practice in Texas. The seller of the car was shown a composite of the wanted subject and verified the composite resembled the person who purchased the car.

A search located a traffic citation for the suspect's car issued a few months earlier in Texas to Gregory Cox.

A report of a suspicious vehicle near a remote cabin in Texas was received by the sheriff's office. Law enforcement officers responded to the call and observed a compact car occupied by a young female and a male subject parked next to a small cabin. The female ran from the car toward the law enforcement officers. The male simultaneously got out of the car and ran away from the law enforcement officers. The male ran a short distance and then fatally shot himself in the head.

The suspect was later confirmed to be a known sex offender. Because his DNA was on file, the FBI Laboratory was able to link known DNA belonging to the suspect with unknown DNA samples obtained from the victims.