Reporting John Lauritsen
CRYSTAL, Minn. (WCCO) — A 44-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion that he approached Little League baseball players through Facebook.
According to Crystal Police, Michael Francis Hamer is being held at the Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of soliciting minors.
Police said they believe Hamer, who still lives at home with his mother in Minneapolis, used Facebook to contact juvenile boys throughout the Twin Cities, and investigators believe he made physical contact with some of them.
“It scares me to think how many of those kids left the fields by themselves and what could have happened,” said Marcie, whose son is a little leaguer.
Hamer first came across Marcie’s radar when she noticed him chatting with Crystal little-leaguers through her son’s Facebook page. When she read the posts and took a closer look at Hamer, she knew something wasn’t right.
“He had no pictures on his Facebook page, which was a key-in to me,” she said.
She and other parents ultimately contacted police on Monday night, just before Hamer started messaging her son.
“I got home that night and there was a direct message from this person on my son’s Facebook page, to him, wanting to meet him at the Mall of America for a couple movies,” Marcie said.
Investigators then set up a fake Facebook profile intended to give the impression that it belonged to a 12-year-old boy named “Aron.” They did this after a number of boys on the Crystal Little League baseball team said they had received friend requests from a stranger named “Michael Hammer.”
After Hamer became Facebook friends with the fake profile, he began inquiring about sexual topics, according to the criminal complaint. Though the officer running the fake Facebook account tried to steer the conversation away from sexual topics, the complaint says that Hamer continued to ask whether “Aron” would like to meet up.
The complaint lists a number of graphic sexual details of what Hamer asked “Aron.”
Police then arranged to arrest Hamer after he agreed to meet “Aron” at a park in Crystal. He admitted he had reserved a room at a metro area hotel and asked if he could write a letter of apology to the parents of “Aron.”
Investigators searched Hamer’s room in the basement of his mother’s house and found a memory stick containing pictures of underage boys in “provocative positions.”
Police are now hoping to identify the boys in those pictures.
“We do believe there are other victims out there. And we do need parents to talk to their children and come forward and talk to the Crystal Police Department,” said Stephanie Fealy, deputy chief for the department.
Police said Hamer has been charged with felony counts of soliciting children and of possessing child porn.
According to the criminal complaint, Hamer has a prior case of exposing himself.
Anyone who believes they know of any other incidents of Hamer contacting or approaching underage victims is asked to contact police at the Crystal tip line — (763) 531-1020.
Police also said that this incident serves as a reminder for parents to take a good look at their Internet safety standards, regarding children’s use of social networking sites and online chatting.