fb pixel

Log In


Reset Password

Task force arrests five for alleged child sex crimes

7
View all photos
JCSO photo Police arrest William Henry Trapnell, 72, who allegedly drove five hours from Warren north of Portland to try and have sex with a minor in Jackson County.
Police: Men traveled to Jackson County to have sex with minors

A months-long undercover operation to identify suspects victimizing children online led to the arrests of five men who allegedly traveled to Jackson County to have sex with juveniles, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office reported Monday.

The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team joint interagency task force made the arrests over a two-day period this weekend.

Those arrested ranged in age from 35 to 72 years old. They drove from throughout Oregon as well as Montague, California. One suspect who is local to the Rogue Valley was arrested in Gold Hill, the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators believe the suspects might have other victims. Anyone with information should call their local law enforcement agency or the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 541-774-8333.

The first arrest came at 4 p.m. Friday when Benjamin Lee Buehler, 35, of Klamath Falls was intercepted by the task force as he was allegedly attempting to meet a juvenile to have sex, police allege.

Law enforcement personnel arrest Benjamin Lee Buehler, 35, of Klamath Falls. JCSO photo

Buehler is charged with first-degree online sexual corruption of a child and luring a minor. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail, the sheriff’s office said.

A U.S. Army veteran and father of five, Buehler was honored as National Father of the Year in 2016 by the national Fathers and Families Coalition of America, according to the Herald & News in Klamath Falls.

The next arrest came a few hours later when Justin Elridge, 39, of Montague, California, traveled to Medford allegedly to engage in sexual activity with a juvenile and was arrested by the task force at the meet-up location, the sheriff’s office said.

Law enforcement personnel arrest Justin Elridge, 39, of Montague, Calif. JCSO photo

Eldridge has been federally charged with persuading an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity, and traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Eldridge was lodged at the Jackson County Jail on a federal hold, the sheriff’s office said.

The final arrest of Friday night came just after 8 p.m. when Jack Owrey, 59, of Crooked River Ranch allegedly communicated online with a juvenile and indicated he wanted to provide the underage child with illegal narcotics and engage in sexual activity. Owrey traveled from near Redmond to Medford and was arrested by the task force as he attempted to contact the child, the sheriff’s office alleged.

Law enforcement personnel arrest Jack Owrey, 59, of Crooked River Ranch. JCSO photo

Owrey was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of first- and second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, luring a minor and attempting to use a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, the sheriff’s office said.

Day two of the operation started with the arrest of William Henry Trapnell, 72, from the town of Warren north of Portland. Police allege he agreed to meet a juvenile for sex in Medford, then drove five hours to meet the child in person, but was instead arrested by the task force, the sheriff’s office said.

Law enforcement personnel arrest William Henry Trapnell, 72, from the town of Warren north of Portland. JCSO photo

Trapnell was lodged in jail on charges of first- and second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and luring a minor, the sheriff’s office said.

Leonard Allen Weedman, 63, of Gold Hill is shown being arrested Saturday by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies as part of a task force investigating men attempting to commit sexual assaults on children.

The final arrest came at 4:55 p.m. Saturday when Leonard Allen Weedman, 63, of Gold Hill, was arrested by the task force, the sheriff’s office said.

Police allege Weedman communicated with a child and made plans to meet for sexual contact in Gold Hill as soon as the child could sneak away and not get caught. He was lodged in jail.

Leonard Allen Weedman

During the arrests, investigators seized digital devices which will be examined by the task force for further evidence of child exploitation. During the investigation, an individual was discovered trading nearly 400 child pornography videos of prepubescent children. The child pornography case is an ongoing investigation of a suspect believed to be residing in the United States, the sheriff’s office said.

Started in June 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking, the task force includes investigators from the sheriff’s office, the Medford Police Department, the Grants Pass Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations, plus prosecutors.

The undercover operation that led to the arrests of the five men included the task force members plus the United States Marshals Service, Oregon State Police and the Sutherlin Police Department.

Due to the complexity of the operation and the dangers involved in the arrests, the task force also enlisted help from other local police task forces, including Medford Area Gang and Drug Enforcement, the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team and the Pacific Northwest Violent Offenders Task Force, the sheriff’s office said.