For this account, both Deery and J were willing to speak openly and at length; transcripts of online chats and police interrogations have also been made available.The story reflects what they said about themselves and their actions, and presents two very different points of view.She knew nothing of his cybersex life, or if she did, she ignored it.A burly, round-faced man of 42, with a thickly muscled neck and shoulders, thinning hair, and a goatee, he was seated before the computer in their living room in a small, two-story town house in suburban Philadelphia.As Jad, one of the policemen in the movie version, says, “We’re more like clergy than cops.”Bingo! The line popped up in a window at the top of J’s screen as soon as he logged in to the chat room.He had peeked into a number of active chats to see how many women were there, and logged on to the ones with a promising ratio.He had immediately tapped her with three messages, and she had responded: The sun blazed in from the window to his back porch.
He was excited to see on-screen that this woman, calling herself heatherscutiepies, lived in his state, Pennsylvania, and was 39 years old.The goal was to identify the latter, hook them, and then reel them in, turn them into “travelers.” Once a traveler took that all-important step out of fantasy and into the real world, his behavior went from the merely immoral to the overtly criminal.When they delivered themselves for the promised rendezvous, instead of meeting a mother and her young daughters they would find a team of well-armed, cheerfully disgusted Delaware County police officers.One of the many false identities Deery has assumed online is something truly rare, even in this polluted pond—that of a middle-aged mother of two pre-pubescent girls who is offering them up for sex.Baiting her hook with this forbidden fruit, she would cast the line and wait to see who bit. Men began vying for her attention the minute she logged on, night or day.Her parents sent her to Catholic schools, and her mother, a retired district judge, now jokes that she wants her money back.Her daughter’s beat is in the vilest corners of cyberspace, in chat rooms indicating “fetish” or various subgenres of flagrant peccancy.This leads unavoidably into the gray area of thoughts, intentions, and predispositions—and into the equally murky realm of enticement and entrapment.It is a way of conducting police business that, without extreme care, can itself become a form of abuse—in which the pursuer and the pursued grow entangled in a transaction that takes on a gruesome life of its own. Dick in his classic short story “The Minority Report,” and in the Steven Spielberg movie based on it, in which an official government department of “Precrime” identifies, charges, and jails people on the basis of anticipated actions.Deery would begin a dialogue, dangling the illicit possibility, gauging how serious her mark was.There were “players,” those who were just horny and despicable, and there were doers, or at least potential doers, the true bad guys.