Police in California and Nevada are crediting social media for helping them track and ultimately arrest an alleged kidnapper and child rapist. Nicholas Wessel, 37, of Richmond, Calif., was arrested on kidnapping, assault and pornography charges on the evening of May 6 at the Nugget, a hotel-casino in Sparks, Nev., after police say he coerced two minor female run-aways from California to drive across state lines with him to Nevada.
Fox News reported on May 8 that while in Nevada, police allege that Wessel had non-consensual sex with one of the female run-aways, a 14-year-old girl from Modesto, Calif. Police also said that one of the girls knew Wessel before they all headed from California to Nevada together.
It was a Facebook posting from the young victim that was seen by police in Modesto that led authorities to Wessel’s location in Nevada. Sgt. Ivan Valencia with the Modesto Police Department said that his office actually got in touch with Facebook staff and “asked for an emergency look up as to where they were connecting from." Our buddies at Facebook provided the Modesto police the unique IP address assigned to the posting, an IP address that belonged to the Nugget.
Police in Modesto got in touch with the Sparks Police Department in Nevada who arrested Wessel at the Nugget, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Following Wessel’s arrest, police discovered a camera containing child porn images in Wessel’s hotel room. In a statement released yesterday by the Sparks Police Department, Sgt. Charles said that the camera contained "several illegal images of children."
"Some of the images were of our 14-year-old victim, but the others are unknown to us at this time," he said.
The two teen run-aways were interviewed following Wessel’s arrest and taken to the Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center in Reno. Wessel was taken to Washoe County Jail where he was being held without bail and charged with two counts of kidnapping, one count of sexual assault, one count of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.
Because of the unidentified images of children discovered on Wessel’s camera, police fear that there may be more victims out there. Anyone with any information in this case is asked to contact detectives at 775-353-2241 or Secret Witness at 775-322-4900.