What started as an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation culminated with the arrest of a 24-year-old Ephraim man in Richfield Friday evening.
The arrest is a reminder to parents to be mindful of what their children are looking at online, said Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Det. Sgt. Allen Pearson.
The sting started in Salt Lake City as Pearson was working with the ICAC. A couple of times each year, members of the ICAC throughout the state meet for training and online operations. As part of those operations, officers enter into various online dating applications with aliases designed to be minors.
In this case, Pearson was posing as a 13-year-old girl who had lied about her age to get into the dating app.
“Most of these sites require you to be 18 or 21, but these kids just lie to get on them,” Pearson said. “These are adult sites.”
Pearson said it usually doesn’t take long with a young looking profile picture to attract attention. He said soon enough someone was messaging the alias about possibly meeting up in Salt Lake City.
“It fell apart, and we couldn’t meet up,” Pearson said. However, the suspect was now texting the 13-year-old girl’s alias and they had exchanged pictures.
“Rather than go back up to Salt Lake again, I arranged a meeting in Richfield,” Pearson said. “I didn’t know who this guy was, but it turned out he lives just an hour from here.”
Once arranged, Pearson and other detectives from the sheriff’s office moved into position.
The suspect was spotted driving around the meeting point and was pulled over. The suspect was questioned, at which point he admitted to police he was there to meet with a 13-year-old girl, Pearson said.
Jayden Syphrett was arrested for one charge of enticing a minor over the Internet or text, a second-degree felony.
“You are not a bad parent if you are going through your child’s phone,” Pearson said. He said there are plenty of minors who get into adult dating or pornography sites, and that parents should take an interest in what their children are doing.
“The good news is that it is getting better,” Pearson said. He said many of the online dating sites have moderators that will ban accounts believed to belong to minors.
“My alias is banned,” Pearson said. “That’s a good thing because it means someone saw the profile picture and turned it in.”
The ICAC task force provides training and funding to affiliated law enforcement agencies like the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to protect Utah’s children.
“We have two ICAC agents and we are willing to help educate parents and kids,” Pearson said. “We’re here to help keep them safe.”