Originally created 07/23/98

Pornographic images of man's dead daughter found on his computer



FARGO, N.D. -- A man who confessed on the Internet to killing his 5-year-old daughter by setting the house on fire also claimed online that he molested the girl, The Associated Press has learned.

The evidence raises the possibility that federal authorities could charge Larry Froistad Jr. with sexual exploitation of a minor ending in the victim's death -- a charge that could lead to the death penalty.

In documents obtained by the AP, an FBI agent said the computer seized from Froistad's San Diego home in March contained e-mail messages and transcripts of chat room conversations in which he admitted to a sexual relationship with his daughter, Amanda.

The affidavit from FBI agent Carl Florez also indicates investigators discovered hundreds of images of child pornography during an examination of Froistad's computer.

They also found evidence that Froistad routinely visited Internet chat rooms frequented by pedophiles and that he had traded child pornography over the Internet, the affidavit said.

U.S. Attorney John Schneider said Wednesday he could not discuss the case or say if any of the images found were of Froistad's daughter. "It is our policy to never disclose the identify of juvenile victims," he said.

Froistad's attorneys did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

Froistad, 29, was charged in March with the 1995 death of Amanda in a house fire in Bowman, N.D. He pleaded innocent to the state murder charge last week and remains in jail. The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

His attorneys have said the Internet messages could have been sent by someone else and are not admissible. They also said he was confused and had serious mental problems.

Authorities say the San Diego computer programmer confessed in an Internet chat group to setting the fire, which was initially ruled an accident.

In an online support group for problem drinkers, Froistad posted a 562-word message detailing a bitter custody fight with his ex-wife over Amanda. He said he got "wickedly drunk," set the house on fire and left his daughter inside to burn.

Fellow members of the group turned in Froistad.

The FBI said it found an e-mail message Froistad wrote to a member of the online support group in which Froistad admitted molesting his daughter.

In that message, a copy of which was contained in Florez's affidavit, Froistad wrote: "The fact is, I had too close a relationship with her; it was sexual and I know that's wrong. But she loved me, and I loved her, and I don't know what to do now."

And while Froistad and his ex-wife had been involved in a bitter custody battle, he noted that it had been settled prior to the fire.

"Even though her mother gave her up to me in late May," Froistad wrote, "something got into me while I was drunk ... and I decided to burn our house down. I made quite a show of it. I killed my daughter and somehow managed to gather a whole town's sympathy. What an actor I am."

The court papers also included excerpts of a conversation Froistad had in an Internet chat room for pedophiles. In it, Froistad, using the alias "Deathbox," wrote an explicit account of fondling his daughter while she slept. She was 4 at the time, Froistad wrote.