Grovetown and Waynesboro police arrested a man Thursday afternoon who thought he was meeting a 12-year-old girl for sex.
Evan Popplewell, 30, of Appling, had been sending messages over social media to an officer who he thought was a pre-teen, sending sexually-explicit messages and requests to meet the girl for sex, according to Grovetown Police Chief Jamey Kitchens.
“Mr. Popplewell traveled to Grovetown on today’s date believing that he was going to meet the 12 year old ‘juvenile’ in the parking lot of the Neighborhood Wal-Mart located at 5303 Wrightsboro Road,” Chief Kitchens said Thursday in a press release. “Surveillance was established ahead of time by Grovetown and Waynesboro units who then observed Mr. Popplewell arrive and park in the vehicle he had described. Mr. Popplewell then exited the vehicle and positive identification was made.”
Popplewell suffered minor injuries during the arrest and was taken to a local hospital for treatment before being committed to the Columbia County Detention Center on charges of enticing a child for indecent purposes and two counts of obscene Internet contact with a child.
The joint operation was done with the assistance of a member of the Waynesboro Police Department, who is assigned to the GBI Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. That officer was contacted on Monday by Popplewell through a social media app. The suspect believed he was communicating with a 12-year-old “juvenile” and began sending sexually explicit messages. Throughout the investigation, Popplewell was reminded several times that he was conversing with a “juvenile” yet he continued to send lewd messages and made several requests to meet the “juvenile” in person for the purpose of performing sexual acts, Chief Kitchens said.
“This is yet another example of agencies working together to make our communities safe for our most vulnerable,” Chief Kitchens said. “We implore parents to be aware of their children’s social media presence and to monitor it diligently.”