East Lansing man lured, sexually exploited au pairs
An East Lansing man is facing multiple federal charges after he allegedly lured a woman and teens as potential au pairs to his home with a fake online profile, court records show.
A criminal complaint filed Monday in US District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids accuses Arisknight Arkin-Everett Winfree of two federal offenses: kidnapping and sexual exploitation of a child.
Authorities first learned about Winfree’s alleged exploits in September, when someone called East Lansing police to seek a welfare check for her sister at his home, an FBI special agent wrote in the filing.
While en route, responding officers called the woman, who “appeared distressed and crying during the call,” according to the affidavit. “(She) requested officers to come to the residence and wait while she removed her possessions.”
The woman told officers she met Winfree through AuPair.com, a website dedicated to connecting families with child care providers including nannies, then traveled from Kansas to meet him, believing she would watch his niece, the document stated.
“After arriving, (the woman) did not observe any items inside the residence that indicated there was a child living there, such as clothes or baby toys,” the agent wrote. “(The woman) observed approximately seven firearms … and described them as ‘machine guns.’”
Winfree, who identified himself as “Stryker” and said he used the social media alias Hunter Tiberius, asked the woman if “she was good at giving massages,” according to the complaint. When learning she was 18, he reportedly told her “she should get a fake identification.”
The FBI later learned from AuPair.com that Winfree’s account was “misleading in using ‘we,’ ‘when you are here with the family,’ and ‘and of course we pay for everything as well’ indicating a family and/or plural members of a household. … there are no indications of there being any others residing or occupying (his) residence.”
In October, the East Lansing Police Department was alerted about an alleged sexual assault at Winfree’s home involving a woman from Italy who also met him through AuPair.com, the affidavit said. The woman was back in Italy, police learned.
In a report filed with the department, the woman wrote she met Winfree through the website after receiving a message from “Stryker” in September, stating his family needed to “immediately” fill an au pair position. Winfree later sent her a link for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization form.
The Italian woman had been detained in New York on Oct. 11 by customs officials who initially doubted her story but couldn’t reach Winfree, according to the report.
She arrived the next day at his East Lansing home and noticed windows covered with wallpaper. On Oct. 13, she alleged he sexually assaulted her, investigators said.
“Winfree … forcibly handcuffed her and placed a ball-gag in her mouth … then started videoing her with his cellular telephone. He instructed her to make statements indicating consent and then videoed her repeating those statements,” the FBI agent wrote. “(The victim) stated the sexual assault moved to an upstairs bedroom where Winfree removed a bag of sex toys from a closet in the bedroom … “
The woman told investigators after she was left handcuffed and tied until early in the morning, Winfree drove her to the East Lansing bus station and paid for a bus ticket to Detroit Metro Airport. “Prior to dropping SD at the bus station, Winfree stole all her money and removed the SIM card from her cellular telephone,” according to the complaint.
On Nov. 30, the same day authorities reached the victim’s attorney, East Lansing police were alerted that a 17-year-old girl said she had had sex with Winfree at his home.
The girl told her father she had met the man online and had been talking to him for about two months before they met and had what she described as consensual relations, authorities wrote in the complaint.
Investigators later reviewed the teen’s phone and learned she had sent him pornographic images.
“Those images are not included here because they constitute child pornography,” the FBI special agent wrote.
Executing a search warrant at Winfree’s house on Dec. 12, the FBI seized 73 items, including 10 firearms, 79.44 grams of suspected cocaine, sex toys, ball gags and several electronic devices.
On a video surveillance camera in a bedroom, authorities found still photographs of the 17-year-old having sex with Winfree, according to the complaint. On a phone, they found explicit images of the Italian woman, screenshots of their conversations. as well as texts with the teen and videos showing them having sex.
“Some of the videos of (the teen and woman) appear to have been distributed via Snapchat,” the filing stated.On the same phone, investigators found texts Winfree exchanged with a girl born in 2006 in which he requested nude photos as well as “Conversations and photographs indicative of narcotics distribution,” the FBI agent wrote.
A federal defender listed as representing Winfree did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Winfree surrendered Tuesday and made his first court appearance in Grand Rapids the same day, records show.
During a hearing Thursday, Magistrate Judge Sally Berens ordered him detained pending a trial. He also was bound over for further proceedings before a grand jury, records show.
If indicated, an arraignment and initial pretrial conference is scheduled for 10 am Feb 21, according to the records.
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