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Police say sex offender tried luring teen girl online by promising a new iPhone

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A 29-year-old sex offender is under arrest, accused of trying to have sex with a middle school aged girl.  Police say he promised a new iPhone when making contact through a social media site.

The arrest was made by Maryland Heights, MO Police working with an internet sex crimes task force.  After finding their suspect, they went to Bonne Terre, MO to make the arrest.

Detective Sgt. Richard White said, 'As a society and as law enforcement, it`s our responsibility to protect children from predators such as these.'

Police arrested Stephen Watters in Bonne Terre.  He was wanted on warrants issued the previous day for felony enticement of a child and furnishing pornographic materials.

Maryland Heights Police caught him in an internet sting, while monitoring social media sites.  Detective Sgt. White said Watters sent lewd messages and a photo to who he believed to be a teen girl.

White said, 'The photo was a very explicit and a lewd photo of himself, believing he would arouse a 14-year-old, which is pretty disgusting really.'

The Missouri Highway Patrol Sex Offender Database lists a previous sex offense for Watters, a much different case from 2002, when he was 17 and his victim was 16.  The database lists two incorrect addresses for Watters, including a work address that would put him working near unsuspecting children and families.  But police caught Watters at a completely different work address.

Bon Terre resident Dave Pyatt said he`s always known to check the sex offender database with caution.  He said, 'It`s always good to have information.  It might be wrong to an extent but you at least know that, hey there might be a possibility that there might be somebody living next to our kids.'  He added, 'No matter what, I`m always going to keep my kids you know close to my home

Today`s arrest is a reminder that strangers can still get to your kids at home, through social networking sites.

Detective Sgt. White said, 'It`s not one site. There`s a plethora of sites to choose from that you can communicate with people.' He added how it can be a concern for teens, 'to have that capability to get on the internet on your own time, anytime you want, I mean think about it.'

Sgt. White says they`re finding predators are setting up fewer meetings with children and now pressuring kids to send nude pics, which then could end up on child porn web sites.

Suspect Watters, who`s recently married, was locked up on a $30,000 bond.

Highway Patrol admits its database isn`t perfect.  It gets the information from local sheriff's departments and that information is self-reported by the offenders themselves.

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