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National, International Data Used to ID Victims of Child Porn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Evidence taken from the home of the man accused of kidnapping and murdering 10-year-old Hailey Owens included binders with child pornography, computers, digital storage devices and video cameras.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Evidence taken from the home of the man accused of kidnapping and murdering 10-year-old Hailey Owens included binders with child pornography, computers, digital storage devices and video cameras.

And because Craig Wood worked with children concerns have been raised about other child victims.

KOLR10 looked at how law enforcement goes about identifying these young victims to stop their exploitation.

We spoke to members of Nixa's cyber crimes unit and the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. The details here are not specific to the Hailey Owens' case being which is being handled by the Springfield Police Department. But, this is how both go about trying to find those children.

"Each time that these pictures are viewed these children are victimized," says Detective Billy Miller of the Nixa Cyber Crimes Unit.

Investigators identifying exploited children can be faced with hundreds or thousands of images depending on the perpetrator. When officers serve a warrant there looking for anything that could hold those images.

"Computers, thumb drives, CDs, anything that's electronic based that could store some kind of media," says Miller.

Miller says local law enforcement has limited resources and many times are able to catch the production of child pornography in limited instances. For example, when the recovered photos match the interior of the home on which the warrant is served.

"We are able to determine, typically, if it's something we're familiar with, maybe within the residence," he says. "We know that that subject is taking photographs of children then it's easier for us to identify they are production based there locally as opposed to just downloaded from the internet."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides greater resources and a global reach.

John Shehan is the Executive Director of the Exploited Child Division of NCMEC.

Shehan says they have to figure out where in the word a photograph originated.

"We have what's called our child recognition and identification system," says Shehan. "It will do a review of those files. We are able to separate out files that have been previously identified by law enforcement and then we can focus on the new files."

Shehan says the software IDs the photograph's digital fingerprint.

"We have more than 5,500 children who have been identified as victims of child sexual abuse," says Shehan. 

Without a digital fingerprint forensic investigators rely on physical traits.

"Sometimes when you look at background material, let's say a keyboard or a calendar or a light switch often times those will give you and idea if it is European in nature or if is from the United States.," says Shehan.
 
The center's analysis can help stop what local investigators can't on their own.

"If they are being currently victimized you want to be able to identify that and stop it," says Miller. 

The National Center Of Missing And Exploited Children has received more than two million reports of child exploitation on their CyberTipline. Click here to see the CyberTipline.
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