Crime

East St. Louis man charged with 8 counts of child pornography

Federal program targets online child predators

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was developed federally in 1998 as the number of children and teenagers using the internet increased and child sexual abuse images became available electronically, authorities say.
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The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was developed federally in 1998 as the number of children and teenagers using the internet increased and child sexual abuse images became available electronically, authorities say.

A 46-year-old East St. Louis man is charged with eight counts of child pornography with children under the age of 13.

Andrew Wigfall was arrested Saturday, according to online court records. He is accused of producing child pornography involving multiple children.

The arrest warrant says that between Jan. 1 and Jan. 25, Wigfall “knowingly photographed a child who the defendant knew or reasonably should have known to be under the age of 13.”

The warrant also says Wigfall had previously been convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in St. Clair County, a class X criminal felony.

“He will never breathe free air again and he shouldn’t,” the grandmother of the victims said Tuesday.

East St. Louis Detective Ronald McClellan said police began investigating after Wigfall lost his cell phone. “Someone found it and sent the multiple inappropriate images of children that were in the phone to everyone in his contacts,” McClellan said. He said the posts went viral and several people who received the pictures and who heard about it on Facebook called the police department requesting the police to investigate it.”

McClellan said some relatives of a victim spotted Wigfall in the area where he lives and tried to stop him. He fled in his car. “One of the relatives was involved in a traffic crash with him after attempting to stop him,” McClellan said.

Wigfall got out of his vehicle and someone fired multiple shots at him, striking him once in the back, McClellan said.

“We got a call that approximately five shots were fired. Responding officers heard the shots. The suspect fled to a gas station in Fairmont City where he asked a worker there to call the police and an ambulance. for him,”McClellan said.

Wigfall was taken by ambulance to St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, where he was treated and released, McClellan said. He voluntarily returned to East St. Louis to make police report in reference to him being shot, McClellan said. “That’s when he was arrested for the pornography found in his phone, McClellan said.

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The very distraught grandmother of the youngest victim fought back tears as she showed a reporter some if the pictures Wigfall had in his cell phone with the granddaughter in different poses, nude and clothed, too.

“He’s a monster,” she said angrily. “She was 3 when it started. I know from the hairstyles in the pictures. It was when she first started school.” She said.

Asked how she and her husband learned of the situation, the 63-year-old grandfather said two friends called him and they had something “they needed to show me about my granddaughter. They said they couldn’t show me over the phone,” he said.. They came to the house. I called my wife in and we looked at the pictures together,” the grandfather said tearfully.

A 29-year old woman whose daughter’s picture was among those pictured on the phone said the girl was clothed. “He caught her at my sister’s house and 90 percent of the time my children are with me.”

She says the suspect was at her house “when we found out.” She said Wigfall had just started coming around to her house. “He’s a mechanic and works on everybody’s cars. He played the role of protective uncle and the whole time, he was deceiving us.” “I feel angry, hurt, upset,” the woman said. She said Wigfall was at her house looking for his phone when the lewd pictures started coming through on her phone. She told Wigfall that someone had found his phone and had posted the photos to Facebook.

The man many women trusted and loved like family was called “Uncle Drew,” and the young girls saw him as their buddy. He portrayed himself to be kind, loving, and like a father figure, the mother of one of the victim’s said.

“He had a knife up to his chest. He said he wanted to end it all in front of my daughter. I tried to call his nephew. When I called his nephew he left. But, before he left he told me to tell everyone he was sorry who had helped him. And, he told me to tell them thank you and then he said good-bye,” the mother said.

Other women who had contact with Wigfall recalled how protective he was of his cell phone. “He would snatch it away if you reached for it to use it to make a call. He didn’t want anyone to touch it. “Now, we know why,” one mother said.

The case will be presented to the grand jury, according to court records.

Wigfall’s bail was set at $200,000.

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Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.


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