ANGOLA — Indiana State Police seized cell phones and electronic devices from a rural Angola home on Monday along with several firearms following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Detectives with the ISP Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Steuben County Sheriff’s Deputies went to the residence of Joseph Dwight McDowell, 38, in the 4000 block of North C.R. 450W Monday morning. After they executed a search warrant and interviewed the residents of the home, McDowell was arrested and booked into Steuben County Jail.
Through a New Jersey based bonding company, McDowell posted a $40,000 bail for his release the same day.
A formal case was filed Tuesday afternoon in Steuben Circuit Court. McDowell is charged with three Level 4 felonies, punishable by up to 12 years in prison — two for child exploitation and the other for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He also faces five charges of possession of child pornography, four of them Level 6 felonies and one of them a higher, Level 5 felony. In addition, a ninth count in the case is a potential sentence enhancer — repeat sexual offender.
McDowell was sentenced to six years in April 2014 after admitting to fondling a 13-year-old girl in June 2011 in Steuben County. He plead guilty to one charge, a Class C felony, allowing more serious charges to be dismissed along with another felony case.
The new case started with a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to Indiana State Police on July 27 following a July 7 report to the NCMEC by Facebook. A pornographic picture, which court documents say involves two adult females and a 3-5-year-old child, was allegedly uploaded by McDowell on June 19.
Gaining access to Facebook’s Law Enforcement Portal on July 29, ISP investigators also discovered images allegedly sent Nov. 21, 2019 of young children in sexual situations with adults from McDowell to the woman he lives with in Steuben County, say court documents.
Detectives also allegedly identified 23 files on the social media site Tumblr of girls that appeared to be 6 to 14 years old associated with McDowell’s Tumblr account. One of the images had previously been recognized by the NCMEC, say court documents.
Both McDowell and the woman he lives with denied knowledge of the pornographic material. McDowell suggested he was “hacked,” say court documents.
Preliminary investigation of a Kindle taken from the home allegedly reveals more than 100 images and multiple videos that include “various forms of sexual abuse” to children from infant to early teens, say court documents.
Two cell phones, the Kindle, two flash drives, three guns and ammunition were seized as evidence. The electronic equipment will be forensically investigated, say court documents.
An initial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in Steuben Magistrate Court.
McDowell is listed as an “offender against children” in the Indiana Sexual and Violent Offender Registry. He has been on the registry since June 2015 when he was released from incarceration. He must remain on the registry for life. His employment addresses include a manufacturing facility at 200 Industrial Drive and an independent trucking company.
McDowell is frequently on the road, say court documents, occasionally staying at his Angola home.
Anyone with information related to cyber-crimes against children is encouraged to contact a local law enforcement agency or visit the NCMEC website at missingkids.com/cybertipline.