New victim of Poplar Bluff sex offender looks likely

Friday, October 26, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Authorities say they have discovered another child victim of a registered sex offender accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old girl Wednesday.

More charges could be filed against Jeffrey Dean Shelton as the investigation continues, according to police and prosecutors.

Shelton, 45, of Poplar Bluff, was charged with the felonies of second-degree domestic assault, felonious restraint, first-degree burglary and child kidnapping Wednesday by Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour after being found with the 5-year-old girl, Abigail, he allegedly abducted from her home that morning. The domestic assault charge stems from Shelton's girlfriend's account that he beat her and restrained her with duct tape when she found Abigail in Shelton's home.

But investigators said a search of Shelton's computer turned up evidence of more crimes, and at least one more victim.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Poplar Bluff deputy police chief Jeff Rolland said. "Now, we're transitioning from locating Abigail to building the best case possible against Jeffrey Shelton.

"We have a lot of work to do, a lot of interviews and re-interviews. We've got evidence to package and process for it to be examined by the various crime labs."

Shelton is charged with kidnapping the child from her Wood Street home early Wednesday. He also is accused of assaulting and restraining his girlfriend when she allegedly found the girl with Shelton inside his Lela Street home.

The investigation also led authorities to remote Ripley County, where Shelton is accused of assaulting his girlfriend's father after he allegedly found Shelton and the abducted girl inside his trailer. Authorities believe Shelton was trying to hide there with the child.

Chief Danny Whiteley said police investigators, and those from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and FBI, were in Ripley County on Wednesday to process the trailer.

Officers, Rolland said, are coordinating their efforts with the prosecutors in Butler and Ripley counties, "so that we can prosecute this as one entire unit, rather than divided up between counties and individual assaults."

During the investigation, the department's Cyber Crimes Unit, with the assistance of Dexter Police Detective Trevor Pulley, found digital evidence of Shelton in "graphic sexual contact" with at least another child. "Even more disturbing, those same detectives found other victims as well, one of which has been identified," Rolland said.

The identified child, Rolland said, lives in the Poplar Bluff area.

Officers will be seeking additional charges of deviate sexual assault on Shelton in connection to his alleged sexual assault of his latest victim.

"We are also in contact with the U.S. Attorney's office in Cape, specifically Assistant U.S. Attorney Abbie Crites-Leoni about pursuing charges as they relate to child pornography."

Whiteley said officers also will seek federal charges related to the use of a cellphone in a kidnapping.

"That is ongoing, and there may be more victims and more charges," he said.

Officers have yet been to determine why Shelton chose to take up residence in Poplar Bluff after his release from a Texas prison in February 2011. He had served more than 10 years in prison on kidnapping, rape, two counts of sodomy and attempted kidnapping charges.

"Although he has been charged with four serious felonies and will have the additional ones that are coming, I wish the death penalty applied in this case," Whiteley said. "This case proves a violent pedophile offender does not get rehabilitated, and the only way to 100 percent assure they do not re-offend is for him to be put to death."

With 28 years in law enforcement, Rolland offered, "there are very few times where you see true evil, but as you look at this picture of Jeffrey Shelton, you are looking at the face of true evil."

Pertinent address:

Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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