Criminology students watch crimes in real time

Tuesday March 25 2014


criminologyChauncey Wilder issued a warning at the beginning of Dan Murphy’s criminology class — if foul language offends you, you’re in the wrong major.

Wilder, an investigator with the Internet Crimes Task Force in Bedford County, showed students in Murphy’s “victimology” class how he chats with offenders, usually, men looking for children to molest.

He simultaneously did live chats with several offenders, including one who said he liked to have sex with his two young stepdaughters, even though it makes them cry.

The level of perversion was difficult to read in chat after chat.

“While this lecture was quite disturbing in many ways about individuals’ thoughts towards children, it did reveal to me a lot about our society,” said Daniel Gordy, a junior criminology major.” It showed me how dangerous our world can be and how often one may not know who they are working with.”

“Some people have this stereotypical view that criminology is just a field for crime scene investigators and all the positions that are idolized on TV shows,” said criminology major Sarah Smith ’15. “That's not the case. Today's guest speaker was an example of just one aspect of criminology. Not many people want to talk about the low-key jobs that involve catching perverts that are out to molest children. It's not a fun topic but we can't ignore the reality of it and someone has to do the job. Criminology is not about getting rich. It's about having a passion to protect people.”

Wilder said they arrest men at all levels — from judges and Navy top gun instructors to male and female schools teachers and “men who live in their mothers’ basements with 15 cats. …Does it make you a little jaded?” Wilder asked. “Yeah, but it should also keep your kids safe and keep you safe. There’s no shortage of creeps.”

While the chats are disturbing, many do not rise above the level of fantasy, Wilder said. Others are virtually nailing their own coffins when they confess to certain behaviors. The most compelling evidence is, of course, video.

Murphy said he wanted his students to see this type of criminal investigation firsthand. “It’s good for people who are technically savvy, who want to get into criminology,” he said. “The class is depressing, but very informative. I tell my students on a regular basis some of the sad things we face as a society, but just maybe, this eye-opener will give them a reason to make a difference.”