An Oklahoma marijuana distributor made an initial appearance in federal court today for allegedly soliciting a woman to molest her 11-year-old child in exchange for help with living expenses, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
Thomas James Heiner, 55, of Langley, was charged by Criminal Complaint with sex trafficking of a child.
“The allegations in this Complaint are utterly reprehensible,” said U.S Attorney Trent Shores. “One of our most important missions at the United States Attorney’s Office is seeking justice for child victims who have been sexually exploited by adults. It is my intention to bring the full force of the law against this defendant. Moreover, we will argue for his detention while he awaits trial because we believe he poses a significant threat to children in our community and others. This child sex trafficking investigation and arrest are great examples of the important work being done by the FBI, Tulsa Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations. When these law enforcement entities team up, Tulsans are most certainly safer and criminals are held accountable.”
During a routine traffic stop on May 16, 2020, a woman reported to the officer that on multiple occasions a man known as “Sasquatch” offered her cash payments, assistance on car payments, and a place to live if she would allow him to molest her daughter while the two adults had sex. According to court documents, “Sasquatch” told the woman that he had previously done the same with an ex-girlfriend and her daughter. The woman reported that the man lived in Langley, Oklahoma, and formerly in Utah. Later, authorities learned the suspect’s name was Thomas Heiner.
On May 17, Heiner allegedly called the woman again and asked her and her minor daughter to meet in a Tulsa hotel room to engage in sex acts. On May 19, at the direction of the FBI, the woman took part in several telephone calls with Heiner, which were observed and recorded by FBI and Tulsa Police Department personnel. According the court documents, Heiner discussed in detail how the two could groom the young girl and coerce her to take part in sex acts with them. Heiner is also alleged to have described how he previously molested a 7-year-old child on at least two occasions.
“The arrest of Thomas James Heiner demonstrates our ongoing commitment to apprehending those who prey on innocent children,” said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Oklahoma City Division. “The alleged actions of Mr. Heiner are not only a violation of the law, but can cause irreparable harm to the mental and physical well-being of young victims. This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated.”
“In law enforcement, we deal with reprehensible acts that decent, law abiding human beings could not possibly fathom,” said Tulsa Chief of Police Wendell Franklin. “This is another case which destroys the innocence of a child and touches the heart of every justice official involved in the investigation. Tulsa Police Department extends our heart to child victims who have endured abuse. May the work performed by our agency and our federal partners—the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Attorney’s Office—be feared by any criminal looking to exploit our innocent children.”
A Complaint is a temporary charge alleging a violation of law. For the case to proceed to trial, the United States must present the charge to a federal Grand Jury within 30 days of the defendant’s initial appearance in federal court. Once a Grand Jury returns an Indictment, a defendant has a right to a jury trial at which the United States would have the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI, Tulsa Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations are the investigative agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Nassar and Edward Snow are prosecuting the case.
Every day, law enforcement and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across our nation dedicate themselves to finding justice for missing and exploited children. On May 25, our country recognizes National Missing Children’s Day. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day in memory of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared while walking to his bus stop in lower Manhattan on May 25, 1979. National Missing Children’s Day honors his memory as well as those children still missing. Etan’s killer was convicted in February 2017 for the 1979 murder, but the case remains active with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children because his body was never found.
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