Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced today that Phillip Stone, 33, of Lacey Township, was charged with Luring and Attempted Sexual Assault.
On March 1, 2020, a private citizen uploaded a video to YouTube depicting a chat on the social media app Skout between himself, posing as a 14-year-old, and Stone. During the course of the chat, Stone solicited the person whom he believed to be a minor to have sexual relations, and it was agreed that they would meet at a specified location in Toms River. At the arranged meeting place, Stone was filmed and confronted by the private citizen.
On March 2, 2020, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit and Special Victims Unit began an investigation into the authenticity of the uploaded video. Investigation revealed that Stone believed he was chatting with a minor, arranged the meeting, and had indeed solicited the minor for sexual relations.
Stone was subsequently taken into custody and transported to the Toms River Police Department for processing. He is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.
While Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the assistance of the agencies involved, he warns, “Investigations into criminal activity should be left to law enforcement professionals. Taking the law into your own hands is dangerous. We are very fortunate that no one got hurt today. But we were able to take a child predator off the street.”
The New Jersey State Police have arrested Stephen McDaniel, 33, of Edison, and Jared Thaxton, 30, of Newark, for allegedly assaulting a 25-year-old man with special needs outside of his residence.
In November 2017, troopers responded to the report of an assault at an apartment complex in Lebanon Boro in Hunterdon County. The victim alleged that two men approached him outside of his apartment and dragged him to the rear of the apartment complex where they verbally threatened and assaulted him before fleeing in a vehicle.
Detectives from the State Police Forensic Imaging Unit worked with the victim to create a composite sketch of one of the suspects. Troopers identified McDaniel as one of the suspects and established evidence linking him to the assault. As a result, troopers arrested McDaniel at his residence in Edison, and was charged with aggravated assault and terroristic threats.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, troopers discovered Thaxton was the previous owner of the vehicle seen leaving the scene of the incident and identified him as the second suspect. Thaxton turned himself in at Perryville Station, where he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and terroristic threats.
The press and public are reminded that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.