Arrested Development

Heard about the 29-year-old sex offender who posed as a seventh-grader? Here's how the sordid case was broken

On Tuesday afternoon, January 16, an old man walked into the administrative office of a small charter school on the high desert plains north of Prescott. He was skinny, with floppy jowls that made him look like the Bitter Beer Face man of the old Keystone ads. But other than his goofy face and laughable name, the staff at Mingus Springs Charter School thought little of him.

The old man introduced himself as Lonnie Eugene Stiffler. He asked if the school had any slots open for a seventh-grader. Stiffler said he had home-schooled his grandson, but believed it was time the boy was educated in a classroom setting with kids his own age.

Yes, the school did have one opening. Stiffler filled out the necessary paperwork. He was told his grandson, Casey Edwards Price, age 12, could begin school the next day.

Fred Harper
Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh presents a "Certificate of Appreciation" to Julie Bradshaw, left, and two others at the Mingus Springs school for helping unravel the Rodreick case.
AP/Wide World Photos
Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh presents a "Certificate of Appreciation" to Julie Bradshaw, left, and two others at the Mingus Springs school for helping unravel the Rodreick case.

The next morning, as Casey entered his first classes, administrator Julie Bradshaw began reviewing the paperwork Stiffler had submitted.

She apparently was the first person at the four schools Casey attended in Arizona (YCFA Achieve Academy in Prescott Valley, Image Middle School in Surprise, Shelby School in Payson, plus Mingus) to actually do her job.

Bradshaw noticed that Stiffler had provided two different birthdates for his grandson — December 22, 1993, and September 22, 1994. Casey had either just celebrated his 13th birthday or he was still 12.

Stiffler had provided an unusually spare birth certificate that indicated Casey was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on September 22, 1994. The certificate stated that Casey's birth weight was seven pounds and that he was 50 centimeters tall.

Odd, Bradshaw thought, that German nurses would weigh in pounds rather than kilograms and then measure Casey's height in metric centimeters.

She also noticed that the court documents from California had Casey's name spelled "Casy."

In those documents, the old man's attorney was listed as W.A. Drew Edmonson, Oklahoma's attorney general.

Either Stiffler had serious connections, or he was a dumb guy pulling attorney names off the Internet.

Bradshaw called the Oklahoma AG's Office. The AG's name is spelled Edmondson, not Edmonson, she was told. And staff there found no record of Edmondson ever representing Stiffler or Casey Price.

Bradshaw's concern heightened when other school staffers started talking about the new kid. They agreed he looked to be 16 or 17, not 12 or 13. She became concerned that, like the Missouri teen recently found living with the man who had kidnapped him several years before, Casey might be a child forced to live a false life by his abductor.

She called the sheriff's office.

Yavapai County deputy Mark Boan came to the school. He agreed that something was amiss.

Interesting, too, that when Stiffler signed the school's publicity permission slip, a legal paper authorizing the child's image or work to be used in school publications or other media, he would not allow Casey's photo or work to be published anywhere, under any circumstances.

It's a red flag for cops. Abductors don't want pictures of their victims floating around the Internet.

Boan turned over the school paperwork to Detective Ross Diskin, who checked Stiffler's home address with Arizona Public Service. Stiffler and a man named Robert Snow had obtained electricity at a trailer on Del Rio Drive in Chino Valley.

Diskin then ran the name Robert Snow through law-enforcement databases and discovered he was a convicted sex offender who had not registered as such in the community.

Diskin then called Riverside County Superior Court, where Stiffler claimed he had received custody of Casey. The court confirmed the paperwork was fictitious.

Officers found out that Casey Price also had been enrolled in a school in El Mirage, Arizona.

At 7:20 p.m., a judge granted their request for a search warrant. Diskin and Chino Valley Police Department officers headed for the trailer on Del Rio Drive.

And so began what each of them agreed was one of the strangest and most disturbing weeks of their careers.


In interviews and extensive police reports, Diskin and other officers explain how the real story of Casey Price, a.k.a. Neil Rodreick, unraveled with a few quick phone calls and series of increasingly surreal interrogations.

In the end, it all would have made for grand comedy if not for the tragedy discovered.

Detective Tom Buvik of the Chino Valley PD and Diskin went to the front door of the trailer as other deputies covered the back exit.

Another man, Brian Nellis, answered the door. Diskin asked Nellis who else was in the house, and he responded, "My grandpa Lonnie." The two entered the house and encountered Snow and Stiffler. They asked Stiffler who else was in the house. He said, "My two grandsons," referring to Nellis and Casey Price.

Officers separated the four inhabitants and began interviews.

Diskin interviewed Stiffler, the old man, and Snow, the unregistered sex offender.

Diskin explained that he had obtained a search warrant because Snow hadn't registered as a sex offender in Arizona and Stiffler's school paperwork didn't appear to be valid. Stiffler acted perplexed, saying that Nellis was his "oldest grandson" and that Casey Price was his "youngest grandson."

Are they your biological grandchildren? Diskin asked.

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18 comments
Nat
Nat

sembour, well youv'e been dealt with, you sound like a complete idiot and probably a sexual offender yourself, too bad i don't know where you are to drop a dime on you. this is such a sad, pathetic story of how sexual perversion has absolutely corrupted people's lives. but i don't feel sorry for any of them. They should be behind bars or under surveillance for the rest of their lives. These men thought they had a 12 year old boy and what they would do if they did,i can't even imagine a night in that household, why do we even waste tax dollars giving these creeps a trial!

Concerned
Concerned

I would say an individual who are quick to judge needs to watch themselves. In addition, I agree with Toni and the comments made for many of you show ignorance. Now I am not calling you stupid, but that you have a lack of knowledge. What if you knew this person when he was a little boy or a teen - Then you would learn there were signs a long the way. For some reason the adults did not pick-up on it or at least never thought it would lead to such� I find it difficult to read the stories about these four men, especially Neil. Like Toni, I knew Neil at a younger age. I would explain things to you, but I can see that most seem to be closed minded. Therefore, just know this try to walk a mile in trying to understand why people get this bad. Most often, you will find out it started with a mental disorder at birth, then abuse, and ultimately the person acting out. Now do not run off and act as if I am sticking up for someone harming another, NEVER. They should all be punished for their crimes. What I am saying people do not get in this place over night.

~ Concern about the comments ~ PS. Do a self check and then go ahead and cast the first stone

toni
toni

i have a few things to say. first of all i am the mother of one of the children in oklahoma that mr. rodreick befriended. thankfully not the child that he did anything too. but it's a very sad scarry situation. to the person that said it was funny.....you my friend have a very sick sence of humor. to the person that said it was fiction....i'm afraid not. to the person who asked about his height and weight. he was around 110lb soaking wet and was around 5'3". his voice sounded like he may have just hit puberty. when he lived here he said he was 13, i thought perhaps he was 15.

mary roberts
mary roberts

I am proud that the school took a closer look at this boy. Also terrified that it could happen in any school in the world. But if a child does not look his age, someone should always look into it. Every where children are: from school,after school programs,ballet, karate, and sports should make sure these kids are safe from these type of people.

jtb61
jtb61

The whole homosexual lifestyle is denegrading and in the end leads to perversions beyond our wildest imaginations. Just think of the lifestyle where the average homosexual has hundreds of partners during a lifetime. What we saw here was just a drop in the bucket. When people refuse to acknowledge God, he abandons them to their evil minds and lets them do things which should never be done.

Emma White
Emma White

I would like to thank the author for pointing out that this school was the first of four who actually took the time to look at this �kid� and his enrollment documents. It gives me chills to think of the number of children desecrated by these convicted sex offenders before they were caught. It is our responsibility, as adults, to protect and care for all children in our community. Unfortunately, most Americans are too busy focusing on themselves to realize, or care, about the horrible things happening around them everyday.

Eve
Eve

The situation is shocking-- but almost as troublesome is how incredibly poorly written this article is.

Egads-- are there No editors on staff?

I cant believe the "author" actually collects a paycheck for putting forth this incoherent mishmosh

Victor
Victor

Sick and perverted. Life in prison should be the minimum. The motive to enroll the 29 year old in school was clearly the group's scam to recuit more kids. I do not believe the other two thought for a momemt they were having sex with a 12 year old.

nelly
nelly

Did anyone mention the weight and height of this man? How can it be mistaken and what about his voice? He looks old to me.

Gary Morley
Gary Morley

This has to be fiction, taken perhaps from an obscure Erskine Caldwell story. I'm pretty sure Mr. Stiffler comes from that ambience. The rest of them come from Hell.

Almond
Almond

I think that story is hilarious. Sure it is sad the depravity of these people, but the way that they fooled everyone all for sexual thrill is funny in some way.

Herbert Erdmenger
Herbert Erdmenger

I hope the 4 of them are locked up for life. If it depended on me...I would feed those 4 creeps rat poison

Hadassah
Hadassah

That's homosexuality for you.

Brenda
Brenda

Is L. Sembour crazy? "...these 4 poor fellows who do not harm much of anyone..."

Why was the 29 year old going to school? To get boys! (to HARM boys) When child pornography is purchased/downloaded, (which was evident from the story that these four losers had significant amounts of child porn in their possession) it creates a demand for more child porn which HARMS CHILDREN. Compassion? Compassion? Compassion is volunteering at the Humane Society, compassion is building a Habitat for Humanity home, compassion is volunteering to coach a Little Leage team when you don't have a kid playing, compassion is taking blankets and coats to the homeless shelter, or volunteering at the soup kitchen. Compassion is not turning 4 sexual predators loose on our children. And who is going to "watch" these characters 24-7 as suggested by L. Sembour? The kiddie porn police? Where is their office and who pays their salary? The tooth fairy? Our law enforcement has bigger fish to fry than playing babysitter to a bunch of sexual predators. I say throw them in jail and let them receive what they have been handing out to innocent children.

Rick
Rick

Excellent article - really opens your eyes to the web of lies told by career criminals and the great work by our law enforcement personnel to uncover the truth. Pathetic individuals, these 4 are.

L.SEMBOUR - you're an idiot! So what if you're a FoxNews regular or conservative Republican? What does that have to do with the fact that the mainstream of America would never agree with your crackpot ideas?

Sarah Bennett
Sarah Bennett

paranoia?!? There are thousands of children that are abused every day, and you want to call the cops going after them paranoia?? There are many other crimes in this nation we should be after with just as much force, I agree, however to save the life and to protect one child is worth what ever it takes. These four clowns (and the idiot lawyer thats defending Roderick) should be in prison. People that harm or plot to harm children do not belong in our society, They belong behind lock and key! Those that posess pornographic material that involves children are only perpetuating the problem and should also be punished accordingly. The very thought that someone could pull this off in the first place is chilling, and then there's the fact that the old man, who thougth he was having relations with a minor, was let go. Wasnt it his intent to harm a child through a lewd act? What about the next child he has contact with?

L.SEMBOUR
L.SEMBOUR

This very good article of yours should trigger questions about the very dangerous escalation of pedophile witch hunt now going-on in USA. Witness these 4 poor fellows who do not harm much of anyone treated like heavy duty drug dealers, with ridiculously high prison terms being evoked, such as life. Pure common sense and compassion is deserting this country. They should just dictate the normal response of society in this case: retrieving the false kid from the school, of course, putting at least 3 of the men in custody for a VERY SHORT while for failing to register as sex offenders, register them, and leave them alone, keeping an eye on them. This will be infinitely more profitable for the society. All this high criminal nonsense is pure bullshit. I am saying it because I know extremely well the human REAL sexual behaviors. I am a FOXNEWS faithful viewer and I vote Bush. However I absolutely do not share this pedophile parano�that is pervasive everywhere in USA and becomes a must to anyone who does not want to be labelled a krypto-pedophile himself, especially among my fellow republicans.

jennifer
jennifer

I have to agree with some of the comments from others. This IS very great reporting. It is nice to actually hear the entire story, (even though at times a little confusing to keep up with it) and I don't believe at all that "Casey Price" was a victim as August states. I believe he knew what he was doing. After all he had scammed Stiffler and Snow into believing he was 12. He obviously carried the same act into the schools in order to lure young innocent boys for his own sexual pleasure. How disgusting! He does have a mental disorder (anyone who does what he has done must have a mental disorder), but he is NOT the VICTIM!! He knew exactly what he was doing, and thought he was going to get away with it. Thanks to all those who dug through this to get down to the truth. Now maybe justice can be brought to him.

 
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