MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (WJBK) - The Macomb County Sheriff says a Dearborn Heights woman thought she was chatting with a man about having sex with him and his underage daughter. She's behind bars and it's thanks to the men and women of a specialized law enforcement team who are dedicated to finding internet predators.
Kristina Howarth, 38, was arrested Tuesday and faces three felony charges related to internet crimes. According to the Macomb County Sheriff's office, the woman met who she thought was a man online and tried to organize a sexual encounter with him and his underage daughter.
The 'man' she had been talking to was actually a member of the Macomb County Internet Crime Division (MACE). Sheriff Tony Wickersham said that, typically, they don't see women involved in activity like this but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
"This time it was a female that was looking to have sex with an underage minor," Wickersham said. "Our computer crimes team is working daily, looking into these websites, looking into these chatrooms and finding these individuals that are going to prey on these young children."
Officers say the 38-year-old mother from Dearborn Heights started up an online conversation with a detective and believed she was arranging an encounter with a father and his underage daughter. The illicit rendezvous started online but the sheriff says they quickly escalated to phone call conversations between a detective and the suspect. That doesn't make her any less safe from charges.
"This lady here was really engaged and wanted to come to Macomb County to complete this act," Wickersham said.
The investigators say having a woman commit these type of crimes are rare but online predators are everywhere, and detectives are constantly bombarded with disturbing content. So much so that safeguards are in place.
"After a while it takes a toll on them so there's a rotational process, we take them back out and move them back in, to give them a sense of traditional law enforcement."
Howarth faces three different felony charges, each of which carry 20 years in prison, if convicted.