A sting investigation by Lauderdale County sheriff's investigators and Meridian Community College's campus police resulted in three arrests over the weekend. All are charged with trying to lure minors for sex, using social media.
Sheriff Billy Sollie says 57-year old Johnny Varnell Warren of Meridian, a former Meridian Community College book store employee, was arrested Friday night after he showed up to meet what he thought was a teenager for a sexual encounter.
Two more arrests were made over the weekend: 50-year old Kevin Donovan Winstead of Union, who is listed as unemployed, and 33-year old Clifton Dean Kelly of Highland Home, Ala., who is listed as a lecturer at the University of West Alabama.
Sollie said Winstead and Kelly were also taken into custody after each came to meet who he thought was a teenager he had arranged to have sex with through social media. In reality, it was a Lauderdale County investigator with whom each man was communicating.
Sollie says the arrests came about through a team effort.
"All three men were taken into custody without incident," said Sollie. "I'd like to commend Meridian Community College, their campus police, as well as the men and women of the Criminal Investigative Division for their diligent work throughout the weekend."
All three suspects are charged with computer luring of a minor, which is a felony. Bond for each was set at $10,000. All three have since bonded out of jail.
The sheriff says the men could face three years in prison, a $10,000 fine and will have to register as a sex offender, if convicted.