Police have charged a 30-year-old man with child sexual exploitation in the bizarre case of a cellphone video showing a 2-year-old boy playing with a grown man’s erect penis.
Testifying Monday in a preliminary hearing for Mahlon Jacobs Dyer, Detective Tom Shelton said investigators got the recording from an unusual source: Someone repairing the cellphone saw the disturbing video and consulted a friend who recommended giving it to the police.
On April 4 at 12:40 p.m., two people who did not want to be identified brought the phone to the Columbus Public Safety Center at 510 10th St. and turned it over.
Checking the phone, Shelton found a 38-second video showing the naked child in a bed with a naked man. The action was underway when the recording began, he said.
Police tracked the phone to a woman who told them she recorded the video, and identified Dyer as the adult photographed in it, Shelton said. The video does not show the man’s face, he said.
The video was recorded in fall 2016 and stored “in the cloud,” the detective said, meaning it was banked online where it could be downloaded later.
It was downloaded to the cellphone in September 2017, though the woman said she thought she had used the same phone for the original recording, Shelton testified.
Though most of the data on the device could be traced to the woman, she and Dyer gave conflicting accounts of who owned it, the officer said.
When later they broke the phone, the woman took it to someone who repairs cellphones as a side job, and that’s how the recording was discovered, he said.
Shelton said investigators thought Dyer lived on Ga. Highway 315 in Fortson, but could not find him there. Jail records show he was arrested about 1:30 p.m. Thursday on Wellborn Drive in Columbus.
Shelton said that while serving a search warrant, officers found the room in which the video was recording, finding the pattern on the bed linens, a picture on the wall and a window air-conditioner all matched images on the video. Police also found smoking devices for drugs, and charged Dyer for possessing those, the officer said.
Shelton said Dyer told police he and the woman were using heroin back in 2016.
Recorder’s Court Judge Julius Hunter set Dyer’s bonds at $25,000 for child sexual exploitation, $25,000 for child molestation and $250 for having drug-related objects.
The woman, 29, also was arrested, according to police records showing she also was charged with child molestation and child sexual exploitation.