A convicted sex offender who allegedly tried to meet a 13-year-old girl at her Tennessee home instead came face-to-face with her gun-wielding father, who laid the trap after realizing his daughter was being groomed online by a predator, authorities said.
Justin Kyle Phelps, 26, first pretended to be a 13-year-old girl named Vicky to make contact with the young teen on Facebook, where conversations about modeling escalated into discussions about sex, a criminal complaint obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel said.
"Vicky" pushed talk of oral sex and eventually offered to introduce the girl to a teenage boy who could "teach her" about it, at which point Phelps Facebook friend requested the girl under the guise of a 17-year-old boy named “Justin Meh,” the complaint said.
The girl reportedly confessed to her conversations on Facebook after her mother caught a “very thin male” trying to climb through her daughter’s bedroom window on Feb. 12, and it was at that point her parents decided to take matters into their own hands.
They messaged "Vicky" and "Justin" pretending to be their daughter and arranged another meeting, but when "Justin" showed up, he found the girl’s father waiting for him with a gun, officials said.
The suspect fled the scene and did not return, the complaint said.
Phelps was arrested on March 13 after investigators from the Knoxville Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force used a fake Facebook profile to lure him to a meeting point, authorities said.
Phelps was first jailed on state charges including solicitation of a minor.
Days later, he was charged federally of posing as two different teenagers on Facebook and using those identities to convince the 13-year-old girl he was a teenager and to disclose her address.
Investigators continue to look into Phelps' activities because they have information that he could have additional victims, police said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris is seeking a psychological evaluation of Phelps, writing only that he has “reasonable cause to believe” he might not be competent to stand trial, a motion filed in U.S. Disrict Court viewed by the News Sentinel said.
Phelps was found guilty in September 2011 of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor in a separate case and was forced to register as a sex offender.