Washington

Detectives bust 21 sex-predator suspects in Thurston County sting operation

The Breckenridge Heights apartment complex in Tumwater is the site of multiple arrests as part of an online sting that targets sexual predators.
The Breckenridge Heights apartment complex in Tumwater is the site of multiple arrests as part of an online sting that targets sexual predators. sbloom@theolympian.com

Detectives with the Washington State Patrol have arrested 21 people in Thurston County as part of an online sex predator sting.

The undercover operation was conducted Sept. 7-18 by the patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force with help from local law enforcement.

Many arrests were made at the Breckenridge Heights apartments in Tumwater. Detectives posed as a mother with three underage children who arranged meetings with suspects who had responded to an online ad for sex. The suspects face attempted rape of a child charges because they arrived at the home having arranged to have sex with a child.

The suspects represent a range of ages and backgrounds. The majority of the suspects have no prior criminal history. The operation has resulted in rescue of four children from abusive situations, said Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez, who helped lead the effort.

“We want to rescue kids and hold people accountable for wanting to do horrible things to children,” Rodriguez told The Olympian, noting the goal was to capture as many potential sex predators as possible. “The likelihood of them getting caught is small. That’s scary.”

Most of the suspects have appeared in Thurston County Superior Court and all have been prohibited from contacting minors. On Monday, Rodriguez said it was possible that more arrests could be made and that two of the 21 suspects await charges. Most arraignments have been scheduled for Sept. 27.

▪ Antaeus Laurent Clark, 29, was charged with first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child and commercial sexual abuse of a minor. Bail was set at $400,000. Prosecutors said Clark is a California resident who has an active warrant on a drug conviction. He was arrested Sunday at the apartment complex and was carrying cash and condoms.

▪ Arthur David Fowler, 42, of Elma was charged with second-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $50,000. Prosecutors said Fowler has no criminal history beyond a driving violation in 1990. He was arrested Sept. 9 after agreeing to meet an 11-year-old girl for sex.

▪ Adam Joseph Persell, 34, of Montesano was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted rape of a child and one count of second-degree attempted rape of a child. He was arrested Sept. 9 after agreeing to meet with children ages 13, 11 and 6 for sex. Bail was set at $500,000. Persell has a 2001 conviction for second-degree rape of a child, according to court documents, and faces life in prison without parole if he is convicted of the newest charges.

▪ Nathan Ahman Vahanian, 51, of Bucoda was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted rape of a child and one count of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Bail was set at $100,000. He was arrested Sept. 10 after arranging to have sex with two children under age 12. In addition to finding onesies, lubricant and condoms in Vahanian’s vehicle, police found a pornographic image of an underage girl while searching his phone.

▪ Ezra Danilo Wright, 20, was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $50,000. He lives on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and has no prior criminal history, according to prosecutors. He was arrested Sept. 9 after agreeing to meet an 11-year-old girl for sex.

▪ Dale Maurice Olea, 31, of Lacey was charged with third-degree✔ attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $40,000. He has no prior criminal history, according to prosecutors. He was arrested Sept. 10 after agreeing to meet for sex with at least one underage child, and was carrying condoms at the time of his arrest.

▪ Nathan Bill Wiggs, 45, of Lacey was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $50,000. He has no prior criminal history, according to prosecutors. He was arrested Sept. 10 after arranging to meet an 11-year-old girl for sex, and police found condoms in the front seat of his vehicle.

▪ Bryan Earle Glant,✔ 20, of Mercer Island was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $50,000. He has no prior criminal history, according to prosecutors. He was arrested Sept. 11 upon arriving to meet two children under age 12 for sex. Detectives found a bottle of lubricant on Glant.

▪ Troy Eugene Dubes, 53, of Lacey was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child, second-degree attempted rape of a child and commercial sex abuse of a minor. Bail was set at $50,000. He has no prior criminal history, aside from a driving conviction in 1990, according to prosecutors. He was arrested Sunday after agreeing to pay for sex with two children ages 12 and 7, and was found to be carrying cash, condoms and lubricant.

▪ Joseph Michael Schoneck, 41, of Tumwater was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child, second-degree attempted rape of a child, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). Bail was set at $100,000. He was arrested Sept. 9 after agreeing to meet with three children ages 13, 11 and 6 for sex. His criminal history includes driving convictions in the late 1990s along with burglary convictions in 1989 and 1993, according to documents.

▪ Kyle Jackson, 28, of Tacoma was charged with first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $50,000. He was arrested Sept. 11 after arriving at the apartment for sex with two children ages 11 and 13 while carrying cherry-flavored condoms. He initially told officers that he came to save the children, but eventually admitted he was lonely and seeking a family connection, according to court documents.

▪ Leslie Joe Vopat, 59, of Shelton was charged with second-degree attempted rape of a child and commercial sexual abuse of a minor. He was arrested Sept. 7 after agreeing to meet for sex with a boy he believed was 13. He was released on bail, which was set at $40,000. Arraignment is set for Sept. 20.

▪ John Stephen Moore, 47, of Lacey was charged with second-degree attempted rape of a child and commercial sexual abuse of a minor. He was arrested Sept. 7 after agreeing to meet a 13-year-old boy for sex. He was released on bail, which was set at $40,000. Arraignment is set for Sept. 20.

▪ Steven Wayne Wolsieffer, 30, of Lacey was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Bail was set at $500,000. He was arrested Sept. 8 after agreeing to meet with an 11-year-old girl for sex.

▪ Michael Paul Haxton, 25, of Lacey was charged with first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $250,000. He was arrested Sept. 8 after agreeing to meet for sex with children ages 12, 11 and 6. Upon his arrest, police found candy, nail polish, a stuffed animal and a ball.

▪ Daniel John Masters, 51, of Lake Stevens was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $50,000. He was arrested Sept. 12 after he agreed to meet for sex with two underage children. During the arrest, detectives found an unopened box of condoms on Masters. He has no known criminal convictions.

▪ Douglas D. Presley, 48, of Mason County was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted rape of a child and one count of second-degree attempted rape of a child. Bail was set at $100,000. He was arrested Sept. 12 after he agreed to meet for sex with three underage children. According to court documents, his criminal history includes a theft conviction in 2004.

▪ Gabriel A. Garcia, 45, was charged with first-degree attempted rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Bail was set at $100,000. Garcia has no known criminal convictions and lives at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with family members who serve in the Army. He was arrested Sept. 13 after he agreed to meet for sex with two girls ages 11 and 6. Upon his arrest, detectives found condoms, apple-flavored lubricant and a small purple vibrator.

▪ Jennifer D. Graen, 44, was arrested Sept. 12 in connection with the operation and is being held in Grays Harbor County Jail on three charges: second-degree dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct; second-degree possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct; and sexual exploitation of a minor. Bail was set at $150,000. According to court documents, Graen’s case is linked to the Vahanian case. Vahanian told detectives that he had made contact with Graen on the dating website Plenty of Fish, and that she was offering a 5-year-old child for sex.

How to help

Anyone with information on possible victims or other crimes related to these suspects is encouraged to contact the Washington State Patrol's Missing and Exploited Children's Task Force at 360-704-2400 or email Kyle.Moore@wsp.wa.gov.

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