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Man facing child pornography charges to appear before judge; Arrest followed report of ‘suspicious’ person observing kids at Cahoon Park

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A convicted child rapist is set to make a court appearance Friday to determine whether he must stay behind bars pending a case involving 17 charges of child pornography.

According to an arrest report from the Roswell Police Department, 39-year-old John Robert Heide, of Roswell, was arrested April 4 in the 500 block of Cypress Avenue for possession of a visual medium of child exploitation involving a child under the age of 13 — a fourth-degree felony — and 16 counts of the manufacture of visual mediums of sexual exploitation of children — all second-degree felonies.

Heide’s arrest stems from an incident in late February when a suspicious person, was observed watching a boys’ tennis practice at Cahoon Park.

According to a narrative by RPD officer Scott Wrenn, on Feb. 27 at about 6:13 p.m. he was dispatched to 1000 W. Fourth St. after the suspicious person was reported. Wrenn said when he arrived at the scene, he met with the caller, a mother.

“She said the male subject was sitting on the bleachers with a cellphone for several minutes,” Wrenn stated. “She did not have his name at the time, but took a picture on her phone.”

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Police later requested the photo to assist them in locating and finding the man. Wrenn said that the following morning, Feb. 28, the mother sent him a text message identifying the man as John Heide.

“I researched Mr. Heide and confirmed he was the same male subject from the picture,” Wrenn stated. “He is registered as a sex offender in Chaves County for criminal sexual penetration of a minor (12-year-old-boy).”

As a result, police spoke with Heide at his listed address in the 1200 block of West Eighth Street, which was later learned to be his mother’s residence.

“It was extremely windy outside, so I asked him if officers could step inside and speak to him for a few minutes,” Wrenn stated. “He opened the door and allowed officers inside. Once inside, I observed Mr. Heide was in a pair of long john underwear and it appeared as though he was laying in a bed.”

Heide later confirmed with police he was a registered sex offender.

According to online court records, Heide was sentenced to 12 years and 287 days in prison and 2 years of parole after pleading no contest to a 2002 criminal sexual penetration charge, a first-degree felony.

“He apologized for loitering in the park yesterday and told me he didn’t mean anything by it,” Wrenn stated. “I told him it was obvious that it was a boys’ tennis practice and asked him if he had any conditions of as a registered sex offender. He told me he was supposed to stay away from ‘them’ (meaning young boys).”

Police said after asking Heide repeatedly why he was at Cahoon Park, he told police he was watching YouTube videos on his phone.

“I told him there was not public Wi-Fi in that area. He said, ‘OK,’” Wrenn stated. “I asked to see his phone and asked him if I could see his pictures to ensure he was not photographing the children.”

Wrenn stated Heide retrieved the cellphone and turned it on.

“He opened the phone after a few minutes and handed me the phone,” Wrenn wrote. “I opened the gallery and observed multiple galleries of nude pictures of males. A couple of the nude pictures were easily identifiable as underage boys.

“I asked him if he had any child pornography and he said there shouldn’t be. He said all of the pictures should be adults.

“He pointed at one of the pictures and stated that wasn’t supposed to be on there and added he should’ve erased it.”

Wrenn said he put the phone into sleep mode and seized it as evidence.

Wrenn stated in his report that he had noticed another phone on a desk, which Heide said had a dead battery.

After police asked Heide about computers in the home, he told police he did not have access to them, as they had been locked.

“I asked him if the only electronic device he had child pornography on was the phone and he said yes,” Wrenn wrote. “He said there were probably one or two pictures on the phone that he had downloaded.”

In an interview with the RPD detectives, Heide told police he does have naked photographs of underage males on his phone and that he got them online, though he could not remember the website, according to the criminal complaint.

Heide told investigators the residence where officer Wrenn spoke with him was his mother’s home, and that he lived in a structure behind the residence.

After denying having any other child pornography at his mother’s residence on West Eighth Street, Heide told police about an SD card he had hidden inside a pencil box. Police said after they obtained a search warrant, child pornography was found on three devices.

On Heide’s cellphone, four images of prepubescent boys were found. On the other cellphone which Heide stated was not working, two similar images were recovered.

Lastly, on the SD card that was hidden inside the pencil box, 16 photos of nude boys, some depicting sexual activity, were found.

Names of some of the files included “nudist-boys11.jpg,” “Ukrainian families of nudists.jpg” and “Three boys naked on the beach.jpg” according to the criminal complaint.

According to Heide’s interview with detectives, he had been “resisting urges” to talk with the boys at the park.

An expedited motion hearing for pretrial detention is set for Friday afternoon before Chaves County District Judge Freddie J. Romero.

A preliminary examination in Chaves County Magistrate Court is set for April 18 before Judge K.C. Rogers.

Heide remains in custody at the Chaves County Detention Center.

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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