Lee County sheriff’s Sgt. Tommy Goodwin said Lonnie Locke, an Army major, first contacted him Dec. 1 in an online chat room. Goodwin gave his age, sex and location as a 14-year-old girl in south Georgia, but told him to leave the conversation.
Locke continued contacting him throughout December and into January, Goodwin said Tuesday. At one point, Locke sent a nude video of himself, then shipped a Web camera in a dinosaur puzzle box to an address he believed belonged to the girl with instructions to do the same, Goodwin said.
Goodwin said a lot of the correspondence occurred in the morning, including at Locke’s home in Columbia County and at his office at Fort Gordon. By the time he was arrested Jan. 18 on the Lee County charge, “we’d had multiple contacts at that point,” Goodwin said.
The FBI was asked to get involved because some of the crime occurred on federal property, Goodwin said. He said he wasn’t sure whether Columbia County or federal investigators have charges against Locke, but said Locke has one charge of obscene Internet contact with a child in Lee County.
Goodwin said Locke has posted bond.
“The man was very apologetic when I interviewed him,” Goodwin said.
In another case, 2nd Lt. Brian Tepe, of Martinez, was arrested Feb. 3 at Fort Gordon by Greene County sheriff’s investigators and the FBI. He was charged with obscene Internet contact with a child and electronically furnishing obscene material to minors as part of an undercover operation by the sheriff’s office. His arrest is not connected to Locke’s, Goodwin said.
A Greene County news release says that Tepe participated in online chats with a person he thought was a minor and that additional charges are possible.
Fort Gordon spokesman Buz Yarnell refused to comment Tuesday on theofficers’ status at the post or whether military police at Fort Gordon were pursuing criminal charges. Neither the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office nor the FBI has pressed charges against the suspects.
Army records show that Tepe, originally of North Dakota, joined in 1996 and was commissioned into Fort Gordon’s Signal Corps on Oct. 1, 2011. Locke, a veteran of the war in Iraq, joined the Army in 1986 and became an officer and chaplain in 1993. He reported to Fort Gordon on June 1, 2010.