HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Federal court documents from a multi-state child sex trafficking case with ties to the Grand Strand reveals a Horry County community Facebook group helped authorities track down one of the suspects.
The investigation began on Sept. 3, 2020, when the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and the State Law Enforcement Division received information that a minor child in Myrtle Beach was involved in human trafficking and the production of child pornography.
Documents show the victim met a woman named “Hannah” on a website called Wattpad and then their conversations went to Snapchat, where a relationship started.
“A few weeks into the online relationship between ‘Hannah’ and the minor child, ‘Hannah’ requested that the minor child meet and engage in sexual intercourse with adult males chosen and vetted by “‘Hannah,’” according to federal court records.
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“Hannah” also instructed the minor to videotape the sexual encounters and send them back to “Hannah,” an affidavit states.
Court records show that many of the sexual encounters were also orchestrated by a man named “Tripp.”
On Sept. 11, 2020, a special agent with SLED was alerted to a video connected to the case that was posted on a Facebook group called P.A.N.D.A. Horry County.
P.A.N.D.A., which stands for Parents Against Not Doing Anything, is a Facebook group where the owner of the page lures suspected child predators to hotels who believe they will be engaging in sex with a minor and records them on video.
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“These are non violent confrontations and all events are turned over to the police to further look into,” the Facebook page states.
The victim’s mother reported the video that shows an adult white man thinking he’s going to meet up with a minor at a Myrtle Beach hotel. The affidavit shows that the P.A.N.D.A owner also posted a picture of the victim and a selfie of the white man seen in the video.
Authorities said a review of the video shows the man getting into a pick-up truck and the license plate numbers can also be seen.
“It’s the same white male subject in the photograph with the minor child that was posted in the comment section of the video posted by P.A.N.D.A.,” the affidavit states.
From the license plate numbers, authorities were able to identify the man as Theodore Bye, who was identified as “Tripp.”
Authorities said a Facebook search of Tripp Bye turned up pictures that matched the same person in the P.A.N.D.A. video and the South Carolina motor vehicle driver’s license picture.
The information led to the execution of a search warrant at Bye’s home. The affidavit shows that several cellphones and laptops were seized from Bye’s home. Authorities said they found videos on the devices with the victim engaging in sexual encounters.
Bye was arrested on Sept. 18, 2020, and charged with 12 counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 14 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. He has been held at J. Reuben Long Detention Center since that date with no bond.
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But the case has now moved from the state level to the federal level.
On Thursday, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina announced federal charges against Bye. He is charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, two counts of production of child pornography, two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, and possession of child pornography.
A federal criminal complaint also identified “Hannah” as 25-year-old Hart Grow from Surprise, Arizona. Grow is charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, four counts of production of child pornography involving two victims, four counts of coercion and enticement of a minor involving two victims, and possession of child pornography.
Sanadin Mohamed Elrayes, 28, of Surfside Beach, and Charles Joseph Spillane, 44, of Myrtle Beach, have also been charged in the case with conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor.
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