Details Emerge in Case Against Teacher Arrested in Jefferson County on Over 100 Child Pornography Charges
According to court documents, the Brookville Borough Police Department filed criminal charges against 46-year-old Michael Todd Wonderling, of Brookville, on Wednesday, April 17.
The charges stem from an alleged crime of child pornography that occurred in the Borough of Brookville between the times and dates of 4:17 a.m. on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, and 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. Evidence was gathered from two IP Addresses that were owned or subscribed by Michael Todd Wonderling.
According to a criminal complaint, on January 22, 2019, around 5:55 p.m., the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children filed a Cyber Tipline Report to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Northwest Computer Crime Unit through information provided by Microsoft.
The report contained information that an image of a prepubescent female that was nude in a sexually explicit pose was loaded or other otherwise obtained by IP Address 184.108.40.206 on January 22, 2019, around 3:33 a.m. UTC (11.33 p.m. local time).
The IP Address was searched by Corporal Novak, of the Pennsylvania State Police, and an Administrative subpoena to Windstream Services was served. The subpoena was for ownership information of the said IP Address for the dates of January 21, 2019, through January 26, 2019. Windstream records indicated that Michael Todd Wonderling was the owner of the IP Address.
Brookville Police Begin Investigation of Incidents of Child Pornography
According to the criminal complaint, around 2:30 p.m. on February 12, Officer Stormer, of the Brookville Police Department, was assigned an investigation by Chief of Police Vince Markle regarding the suspected possession of child pornography.
Chief Markle received documents from the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Northwest Computer Crime Unit Corporal Novak concerning an investigation through the Pennsylvania State Police after their agency was provided with four Cyber Tipline Reports. Microsoft alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of alleged child pornography distribution. Four images were uploaded using an IP address 220.127.116.11 that were believed to be images of females under the age of 18 performing lewd sexual positions.
Corporal Novak obtained a service provided for the above-described IP Address from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and determined that the provider was Windstream. A subpoena was issued to Windstream and it was learned that IP address originated from 179 1/2 Franklin Avenue in the Borough of Brookville, Jefferson County. Information from Windstream also provided a subscriber as Michael Todd Wonderling.
Furthermore, Microsoft provided an upload time and date for each of the four images: 4:17 a.m. on November 28, 2018; 4:19 a.m. on November 28, 2018; 9:57 on November 29, 2018; and 9:19 p.m. on November 30, 2018.
Search Warrant Executed at 179 1/2 Franklin Avenue Residence
On February 12, 2019, around 4:00 p.m. Officer Stormer and Chief Markle executed a search warrant on the residence of 179 1/2 Franklin Avenue.
The complaint states that upon knocking on the main door, a male known to Officer Stormer as Michael Wonderling answered the door. Wonderling has been a known resident of Brookville Borough for over 10 years.
During this encounter, “Wonderling acted very concerned about the presence of police officers in his residence,” according to the complaint.
It was noted in the complaint that “Wonderling had spent a considerable amount of time around police officers and his behavior was out of the ordinary for him. His actions were out of the ordinary by seemingly delaying the entry of police into his residence by standing in the center of the doorway/stairway in an attempt to slow or stop law enforcement from proceeding beyond him.”
Chief Markle explained to Wonderling that they had a search warrant for the home. Wonderling was handed a copy of that search warrant, and he began to read immediately. He acted calmly, but asked questions. At this time, he was asked to sit on his couch until the search was complete.
During the search, Wonderling asked to be allowed to access his desktop computer to finish his income taxes. This request was denied due to the purpose of the warrant.
Officer Stormer and Chief Markle recovered several cell phones, thumb drives, CD’s, and other computer equipment, as well as Wonderling’s desktop computer.
Following the search, Chief Markle provided Wonderling with his Miranda Warnings which he said he understood and agreed to talk to officers.
Wonderling denied having any knowledge of child pornography in association with his IP Address.
The complaint states that throughout the interview, Wonderling used evasive tactics to avoid answering questions, such as “he often brought up or focused on non-related topics to the investigation.”
According to the complaint, “Wonderling did say that he watches or views pornography on his desktop computer about ‘every other day’ and that he has been viewing pornography since ‘the Internet came out.'” Wonderling said he has had images “pop up” on his computer while viewing pornography, but “he has never searched for or purposely viewed child pornography.”
During the interview, Wonderling allegedly said he views pornography on an Internet site called “Image Fap” and that pictures are often refreshed “so they don’t get in trouble,” the complaint states.
Officer Stormer asked Wonderling if he understood that he just told him that he views pornography on a site that contains illegal images, and Wonderling said “he didn’t mean to say that the way he did,” according to the complaint.
Wonderling then allegedly told Officer Stormer that he has viewed thumbnail images of what might have been child pornography, but he never opened those images.
Wonderling also related that he has children, and the youngest is 16 years old and that he did not have his children on the dates that the alleged violations occurred, the complaint indicates.
PA State Police Crime Unit Examines Evidence from IP Address 18.104.22.168 (Ownership: Wonderling)
On February 21, 2019, Officer Fritz transported evidence from this case (one computer tower and one cell phone) to the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit in Meadville, Pa. Fritz transferred custody of the above-mentioned items to Digital Forensic Examiner Taylor of the Pennsylvania State Police at 3:37 p.m. These items were submitted for forensic analysis of those items.
Forensic Computer Scientist Discovers Additional Images on Wonderling’s Computer
On April 15, 2019, at 3:05 p.m., Officer Stormer spoke to Forensic Computer Scientist Hernandez of the Pennsylvania State Police Computer Crime Unit of Meadville.
Hernandez notified Officer Stormer that he began to “carve” or restore deleted images from Wonderling’s computer when he found 30 more images of child pornography.
Hernandez was still working on that analysis and “more documentation of child pornography is expected to be found during his search,” according to the complaint.
Officer Stormer’s investigation also showed through Windstream and his own attempts that Wonderling has a secure wireless Internet system at his residence. Officer Storm attempted to connect through WIFI to Wonderling’s Internet and was unsuccessful in doing so, the complaint states.
Wonderling Arraigned, Jailed, Awaiting Preliminary Hearing
Wonderling was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Gregory M. Bazylak at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, on the following charges:
– Sexual Exploitation of Children Offense Defined, Felony 2 (35 counts)
– Child Pornography, Felony 3 (35 counts)
– Disseminate Photo/Film of Child Sex Acts, Felony 3 (35 counts)
Unable to post $60,000.00 monetary bail (10%), he was lodged in the Jefferson County Jail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 2 at 2:45 p.m. with Judge Bazylak presiding.
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