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4 Arrested in Parkersburg Child Sex Sting

Photo by Candice Black - Lt. Mike Stalnaker with the Parkersburg Police Department and West Virginia State Police Cpl. J.M. DeMeyer hold a press conference Wednesday at the Parkersburg Police Department to discuss the arrest of four men on child solicitation charges.

PARKERSBURG — Four men were arrested over the weekend for soliciting a minor online after an undercover operation by the West Virginia State Police and the FBI.

Tristian Lee Cumberledge, 38, 1106 16th St., Parkersburg, Jamie Todd Holbert, 50, 4807 First Ave., Parkersburg, Jeffrey Lee Ward Jr., 30, 55 Kent Lane, P.O. Box 143, Craigsville, W.Va., and Elijah Gage Compton, 25, 470 Bear Hollow Run, Harrisville, traveled to the Parkersburg area over the weekend to meet up with who they believed to be minor children online, Lt. Mark Stalnaker with the Parkersburg Police Department said during a press conference Wednesday.

“There’s no more worthy cause than to investigate these cases and protect our children. This operation began on Thursday last week, involving several different local agencies, state agencies and federal agencies,” he said.

Ward allegedly used an electronic device to communicate with who he believed to be a 14-year-old female. Stalnaker said. Ward sent pictures of his genitalia and the conversation was sexual in nature.

“This is not Mr. Ward’s first time with this type of crime, Mr. Ward is actually a convicted sex offender out of the state of Ohio,” Stalnaker said.

Compton had also allegedly spoken with who he believed was a 14-year-old and sent a picture of his face.

“He traveled from Ritchie County to Parkersburg to meet this 14-year-old girl,” Stalnaker said.

Cumberledge allegedly told undercover members of law enforcement, who he thought was a 14-year-old girl, that he wanted to perform a sex act on a teenage girl.

Holbert allegedly sent a video of his genitalia to who he thought was a 15-year-old boy, talked about engaging in sexual activity and planned to meet in Parkersburg for sexual acts, Stalnaker said.

A few years ago, a similar sting operation took place and six were arrested for child solicitation crimes.

“This is comparable with the previous operations that we’ve done,” Stalnaker said.

Cpl. J.M. DeMeyer with the West Virginia State Police said she’s on the Internet Crimes Against Children task force which helped in the investigation.

“Our caseload is huge for the state of West Virginia in general. Part of what we do is undercover chats and operations in an effort to be more proactive than reactive,” she said. “This is something that we’ve done for the state for years now.”

DeMeyer said child solicitation on the internet is very common around the country and that parents should be aware of what their children are doing online, specifically with platforms like TikTok and Snapchat.

“They’re all dangerous for kids. Any computer, phone or media device that has the capability to send or take pictures as well as message and communicate are very dangerous because predators prey on kids on the internet,” she said.

DeMeyer hopes to create a local task force to combat online child solicitation with the idea that with more people working toward a common goal, it will be successful in more arrests.

To gain a knowledge of how certain sites and apps work, DeMeyer encourages parents and guardians to download them to their phones.

Stalnaker said more charges could be coming and believes it was a successful operation.

Cumberledge, Holbert, Ward and Compton are being charged with solicitation of a minor. Ward was being held at North Central Regional Jail on a $200,000 surety bond, while the others were released on bond — Cumberledge at $50,000, Holbert at $150,000 and Compton at $200,000.


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