WARNING: THIS ARTICLE MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME READERS
Worcester, Massachusetts/Largo, Florida — An investigation led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, named “Operation Holitna” that originated in Boston back in 2010 has led to the arrests of 54 predators in at least six different countries, and the rescue of around 167 child victims worldwide.
One of the predators arrested in the investigation was identified as Geoffrey Portway, 40, of Worcester, Massachusetts. Portway was sentenced on Tuesday, September 17, 2013, to more than 26 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of sex offender probation for Solicitation To Commit A Crime Of Violence, Solicitation For The Kidnapping Of A Child, and Possession And Distribution Of Child Pornography.
Since Portway is a citizen of the United Kingdom, he also faces deportation upon his release from prison.
Portway had multiple conversations with other very disturbed men in various chat rooms which were being monitored by investigators. The conversations between these men consisted of talk about mutual interests in abducting, raping, torturing, murdering, even cooking and eating children. Many of the conversations involved the trading of child pornography. Including images of children known by the men, accompanied by discussions of the desire to sexually abuse, murder and cannibalize those children.
In one conversation, Portway asks another man to help him kidnap children, saying, “I want to eat… The two boys you will bring me. Perhaps not today, but it will happen that is all I live for…I am serious. It is the only thing that gets me up in the morning.”
After tracking Portway through his computer, Homeland Security Investigations special agents along with state and local police raided his home on July 27, 2012, in Worcester. Armed with a federal search warrant they executed a search of the residence, what they found inside was like something straight out of the TV show, “Criminal Minds”.
A forensic examination of his computer revealed over 4,500 exchanges of child pornography with others and around 20,000 images and videos of child pornography much of which depicted dead children as well as people cooking and eating children.
However, the most shocking thing agents found during the search was not what was inside the home, but what was actually underneath the home.
An eerie stairway led them to a locked door in the basement of the residence. Behind that door was a sally port that led to a second door with a keyed lock. Behind the second door was a dungeon, which was lined with acoustical sound deadening material, a chair, a television and what appeared to be an internet modem. The room also contained a child-sized homemade coffin, with large speakers covered in mesh wire at one end with exterior locking devices. A steel cage that was approximately three feet wide, two feet high, and four feet long with multiple locking devices and had a steel table top with steel rings at six points, presumably for restraints.
There was a deep freezer, an upright freezer, disposable scalpels, deluxe butchering kits and castration tools. In recovered chats from Portway’s computer, he described his dungeon as a place he intended to use for keeping kidnapped children while he sexually abused them, and where he would eventually murder and eat them.
Portway’s attorney, Richard Sweeney blamed his client’s behavior on a troubled life, saying that Portway realized he was gay at the age of 8, and couldn’t tell anyone because his dad was a homophobe. Sweeney went on to say that Portway resorted to a fantasy world and as a child, Portway himself had a desire to be eaten.
Sweeney referred to Portway’s basement as a “theater” rather than a dungeon. He said, “He walked in there and he would do his fantasies, and he would do it in the privacy of his own home. He never tried to put himself in a position where he would have contact with children and he never laid a hand on any minors.” He added, “In Mr. Portway’s case, there’s pornography, there’s a fantasy world, there’s no child.”
On May 6, 2013, Portway pled guilty to Solicitation To Commit A Crime Of Violence, Solicitation For The Kidnapping Of A Child, and Possession And Distribution Of Child Pornography, he was sentenced Tuesday to 320 months in prison in accordance with the plea agreement signed by Portway.
Bruce M. Foucart, the special agent in charge of HSI Boston, said, “Mr. Portway made his intentions explicitly clear in online conversations with depraved like-minded individuals. The sophisticated child torture chamber he built in his basement also clearly demonstrated his strong desires to ensnare a child victim. There is no doubt in my mind that given the right set of circumstances, Mr. Portway would have acted on those perverse urges.”
Among the several people Portway solicited for their help in abducting children it was predominantly from Michael D. Arnett, 38, of Roeland Park, Kansas. As early as 2010 Portway utilized Skype and other programs to communicate with Arnett, trading child porn including images of injured, mutilated and deceased children while chatting about the abduction, rape, sexual abuse, murder, and cannibalism of children.
Over months, Portway repeatedly asked Arnett to kidnap a child for him, with the intent that Portway would ultimately rape, kill, and eat that child. Those solicitations included discussing real children by name and photo, which Arnett claimed to know and have access to.
In the chats Portway and Arnett discussed the different ways to kidnap children and the age range that Portway preferred. Portway was told by others that Arnett had helped with such requests, and that he had experience in the abduction and sexual abuse of children.
Arnett has since been arrested and pled guilty in Kansas to Sexual Exploitation Of A Child For The Purposes Of Producing Child Pornography.
Arnett was also communicating with other pornography suspects who have been arrested and charged in the international investigation. Those men who communicated directly with Arnett are: Ronald Brown, 57, of Largo, Florida; Robert Mucha, 56, of Newton, New Jersey; Jason Scarcello, 42, of Anderson, California; and Richard Dates, 67, of Grant, New Mexico.
Following the publicity of the Arnett arrest in Kansas, HSI agents also arrested Robert Poe III, 38, of Kansas City, Kansas, after being identified in May of 2012, when a victim came forward and reported he and his brother had both been sexually molested as minors by Poe and Arnett. Poe pleaded guilty on February 19, 2013.
Ronald Brown, 57, of Largo, was a Christian puppeteer who put on puppet shows at schools, churches, and birthday parties, according to authorities. During his chat sessions with Arnett, he discussed his desire to tie a child up, lock him in a closet and then eat him for Easter supper. In another he stated that his mouth watered when he looked at a female toddler.
Brown even sent Portway a photo of a boy with lines drawn on him to identify the different cuts of meat. They then discussed taking that child to a rented house in the Everglades, mutilating him, eating his body over several weeks and then feeding the “leftovers” to alligators.
Brown was sentenced to 20 years in prison back in July of 2013.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, defendants and victims continue to be identified around the world.
Homeland Security Investigations encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423, which is staffed around the clock by investigators.
If you have any information related to this investigation, you are asked to call 617-748-3274.