UNLAWFUL CONTACT WITH A MINOR
CHARGES: Unlawful Contact with Minor (2 Counts)
Criminal Use of Communication Facility
DETAILS OF INCIDENT:
On May 5, 2020, the Berks County Detective’s Office received a complaint from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (N.C.M.E.C.). The complaint involved an individual utilizing “Tagged.com” to entice a child into participating in sexual activity.
The complaint identified the suspect as (50) fifty-year-old Edward Merkel, hereinafter referred to as the defendant. The “Tagged.com” account utilized was associated with the defendant at his Boyertown residence.
During the month of January 2020, there were numerous electronic communications exchanged between the defendant and a (15) fifteen-year-old female.
The Berks County Detectives were able to identify the Internet Protocol (I.P.) address which the defendant utilized to participate in the “Tagged.com” electronic communications in January 2020. An Administrative Subpoena was served upon the I.P. service provider which identified the service address as the defendant’s Boyertown residence.
In response to this complaint, Law Enforcement created and assumed the persona of a (15) fifteen-year-old female and engaged the defendant which resulted in an exchange of numerous electronic communications. The communications were sexual in nature. The defendant also encouraged and enticed the purported (15) fifteen-year-old to meet with him wearing shorts, but no bra.
On May 19, 2020, the defendant and purported (15) fifteen-year-old arranged to meet at a pre-planned location in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The defendant arrived driving his 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser, parked, exited his vehicle, walked around his vehicle, but then departed the location.
The electronic communications between the defendant and the purported (15) fifteen-year-old were continuous and on-going from May 18, 2020, through May 31, 2020.
There was no further communication.
In October 2020, the defendant initiated and contacted the purported (15) fifteen-year-old, which was the persona created by Law Enforcement. The defendant requested “sexy pictures” and once again, the communications were both seductive and sexual in nature.
On October 15, 2020, the defendant and purported (15) fifteen-year-old arranged to meet at a pre-planned location in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The defendant arrived in the area driving his 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser, but then departed the location and proceeded to his Boyertown residence.
The Berks County Detectives assigned to this covert operation, intercepted the defendant as he exited his vehicle in front of his residence. The Detectives executed a Search Warrant and seized the defendant’s cellular telephone.
The forensic examination of the cellular telephone yielded evidence related to the electronic communication exchanges between the defendant and the purported (15) fifteen-year-old.
On January 11, 2021, the Berks County Detectives filed criminal charges against the defendant, Edward Francis Merkel, at Magisterial District Judge Michael Hartman’s Office and an arrest warrant was issued.
On January 13, 2021, at approximately 6:00 P.M., the Berks County Detectives apprehended the defendant at his Boyertown residence. The defendant was transported to the Central Processing Center and released into the custody of the Berks County Sheriff’s Department.
The defendant was fingerprinted and photographed.
M.D.J. David Glass presided over the defendant’s video Preliminary Arraignment. Bail was set at $100,000.00 and the defendant was committed to Berks County Jail.
As in every criminal case, the fact that an arrest occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation, and the defendant Edward Francis Merkel, is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.