It’s been 10 years since 13-year-old Greenbrier student Kacie Woody was abducted and killed by a 47-year-old stranger from California who posed online as a teenager.
There was much disbelief and sadness — and fear — throughout the county.
To mark the anniversary of her death, her friends are holding a memorial service at 6:30 p.m. Monday, at Greenbrier High School.
There will be a release of lighted paper lanterns.
Kacie was found dead, along with 47-year-old David Fuller from San Diego, Calif., in a van inside a storage unit at a Conway mini-storage facility on Prince Street.
A frantic, 22-hour search involving the FBI and state and local law enforcement ended with Fuller’s apparent suicide as police arrived at the scene.
Faulkner County Sheriff Karl Byrd was a State Police Investigator in 2002 and was called in early on the case.
“We have a tendency to get comfortable and believe that something so horrible could never happen to us, in our remote, small-town location,” Byrd said Friday.
“This was one of the cruelest crimes ever committed in our county. An unknown person traveled 2,000 miles to Holland to kill Kacie.”
Byrd said when he became Sheriff, one of his priorities was to create an Internet Crimes Unit that has resulted in several convictions of child pornographers.
A.J. Gary, Conway Police Chief since 2007, said his department has responded to the need for Internet safety with several additions to the work of the police.
“With the help of the Secret Service, we added a computer forensics detective who can retrieve evidence by recovering files on seized computers that have not been swept clean as the owner may have thought.
“We’ve had a few arrests of predators who thought they were chatting with a youngster, but when they arrived here, they were met, not by a child, but by one of our officers,” Gary said.
“A different detective is working with a new FBI task force to investigate those who are involved in the child sex trade.”
Many throughout the nation are involved in cracking down on this problem, Gary said.
“Everyone understands the need to protect our children” and many agencies are involved.
At the time of the tragic incident, officials said Fuller posed as a teenage boy in a Christian chat room and, over several months of instant messaging and phone calls, managed to glean enough information from Kacie Woody to find out where she lived.
She was home alone that night, chatting on the Internet.
Kacie’s dad, Greenbrier Police Officer Rick Woody, was on duty that night. He’s still a Greenbrier officer.
Since Kacie’s death, Woody has spent much time speaking about Internet safety and working to increase public awareness of Internet predators.
Byrd said: “There’s no telling how many lives Rick has touched — and saved — in his efforts to protect children with advice for internet safety.”
In 2004, Woody received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for his efforts to educate parents and law enforcement officials to the awareness of Internet safety.
He said then that educating others helped him cope with the death of Kacie.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234.)