‘This is the weirdest case I’ve seen in 18 years’
PHOENIX – A 29-year-old convicted sex offender from Oklahoma allegedly conned two Arizona men into believing he was a 12-year-old boy, moving into their home and having an ongoing sexual relationship with them, sheriff’s officials in Yavapai County said Friday.
The ruse was discovered Wednesday after one of the men tried to enroll the fake 12 year old in a charter school in Chino Valley, about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix, using the name Casey Price.
School officials became suspicious and called deputies, telling them they thought the guardianship papers and birth certificate presented by a man who said he was the “12 year old’s” grandfather appeared to be fake and that “Price” looked much older than 12, said Susan Quayle, a spokeswoman for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
“They were very upset when the detectives told them they had been having a sexual relationship with a 29-year-old man and not a pre-teen boy,” Quayle said, referring to the two men.
Sheriff’s detectives investigating the case learned that the “grandfather” was Lonnie Stiffler, 61, who lived in a home in Chino Valley with Robert James Snow, 43, a sex offender who had failed to register with authorities, and the “12-year-old.”
Deputies served a search warrant at the home Thursday and found Stiffler, Snow, Brian J. Nellis, 34, and the phony pre-teen boy, who turned out to be Neil Havens Rodreick II, 29.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections online records show that Rodreick was convicted in 1996 of lewd and indecent proposal to a minor and served time in prison from Nov. 19, 1996, to Jan. 30, 2002. The records show that Nellis was convicted in 1997 of lewd molestation and was imprisoned from July 24, 1997, to July 28, 2000.
During interviews with the men, detectives learned that Stiffler and Snow met Rodreick through an Internet chat about two years ago, Quayle said, and they began to trade sexually explicit photos. He convinced them he was “Casey Price” and was only 12.
Stiffler and Show went to Oklahoma and met Rodreick at a hotel, then brought him back to live with them in Arizona and began an ongoing sexual relationship, Quayle said.
Rodreick apparently shaved his body hair and used makeup to keep up his guise as a pre-teen boy, Quayle said. He also dressed as a juvenile and tried to act and talk like a pre-teen.
“He looks young, I would not have guessed that he’s almost 30,” Quayle said, though she noted he certainly looked much older than 12.
When detectives unraveled the case and told Stiffler and Snow that “Price” was named Rodreick and was in fact 29, Quayle said they became dismayed and angry that they had been “conned.”
Nellis was apparently Rodreick’s cell mate in an Oklahoma prison and is also a registered sex offender, Quayle said.
Detectives have evidence that Stiffler and Snow enrolled Rodreick in other Arizona schools, possibly in Payson, El Mirage and Prescott Valley. They have notified law enforcement agencies in those jurisdictions to begin investigating, Quayle said.
“I think what we’re looking at is that he’s being used to troll for other kids,” she said.
All four men made an initial appearance in Yavapai County Justice Court Thursday, with all but Stiffler being held on $50,000 bond on a charge of failing to register as sex offenders. Stiffler was booked on two counts of forgery and one count of hindering prosecution and ordered held on $100,000 cash bond.
All four men were assigned public defenders, but Yavapai County Public Defender Janet Lincoln said her office had not seen any reports by Friday afternoon or met with the men and would have no comment. The county attorney’s office issued a statement saying that decisions on additional charges would be made by Monday afternoon. Quayle said deputies are looking into other possible charges, but are not asking for child molestation charges involving Rodreick.
“We can’t charge them with child molest because he was not a child,” Quayle said.
Quayle praised officials at the Mingus Springs Charter School where Rodreick tried to enroll Wednesday.
“This school, they really deserve congratulations,” she said. “They jumped on it, they were not fooled and they called us right way.
“This is the weirdest case I’ve seen in 18 years,” Quayle said. “Even the detectives said it was the weirdest. If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.”