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.
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.
"Well, I have custody of Casey." He went on to explain that Brian Nellis was 34 and Casey was 12. He said Casey had come from Oklahoma "about two years ago" and that Snow had custody of the boy before Stiffler gained custody in California.
Diskin showed Stiffler the school documents. Stiffler said he believed the documents were valid and that he had received them from "the court." Diskin read Stiffler his Miranda rights.
Stiffler said he received the court documents from Riverside, California, "through the Internet." Diskin explained that he had contacted the court and that the court numbers did not remotely match any case it had. Diskin also told Stiffler that the Oklahoma attorney general's name was spelled incorrectly.
Stiffler then said he received the documents from "the U.S. Marshal's Attorney."
That doesn't make any sense, Diskin told him. "The U.S. Marshal's Attorney?" he asked.
"Mike Marshal," Stiffler said. "He sends me all this paperwork himself."
Diskin told Stiffler that he needed to be honest with him and explain who Casey really was.
Stiffler continued to suggest the paperwork was legitimate.
"It comes from the courts, it comes through the courts and stuff, I have read the paperwork and that's it."
Stiffler pointed out the judge's name, Richard Macy.
Diskin told him there was no judge by that name.
Stiffler said, "I don't know, this paperwork was given to me, sir."
"It was signed by Richard Macy."
Diskin explained again that such a judge does not exist.
"I thought it was legal because it was signed by the judge," Stiffler said.
"Where did you get the paperwork?" Diskin asked
"I got it from Mike Marshal, who is a U.S. Marshal."
Diskin had seen the name Mike Masters, U.S. Marshal, in the paperwork.
Oh, yes, Mike Masters, Stiffler said. Stiffler explained that Masters is both a U.S. Marshal and an attorney.
Diskin then asked Stiffler who had custody of Casey before he did.
Stiffler said Robert Snow had custody. Stiffler said Snow was his nephew. Stiffler said all the paperwork had been filed in the Riverside court.
Diskin explained that the court had never seen either man's name on any custody documents.
Stiffler grabbed a briefcase and began shuffling through documents. He explained the court would send him blank custody papers through e-mails to fill out. He would send them back, he said, and the court would return them signed.
Stiffler also said he obtained Casey's birth certificate from Mike Masters. Diskin showed Stiffler the birth certificate, which was shoddily made and short on information, and asked Stiffler if he thought it looked real.
"It's a copy of a birth certificate, I agree; it's not an official birth certificate," Stiffler said.
Diskin then asked if he knew how he could contact Mike Masters.
Stiffler said, "No, I do not, he doesn't get a hold of me directly. He talks to my grandson."
Stiffler was referring to Casey Price, whom Diskin was quickly coming to believe was not related to Stiffler at all.
In Casey's room, Sergeant Luis Huante was talking with Robert Snow, whom the police knew to be an unregistered sex offender. At the time, Snow was the only one of the four men police knew they'd be arresting that day.
After the confusing conversation with Stiffler, Diskin walked into the room with Huante and Snow. He read Snow his Miranda rights and began asking more questions.
"How old is Casey Price?" Diskin asked.
"Twelve years old."
Diskin asked who Casey's mother was.
Snow gave the name Linda Price. She was in Germany, Snow said. Snow said Linda Price gave guardianship to Stiffler so Casey could stay out of foster homes.
Diskin told Snow that Stiffler was not Casey's legal guardian.
"He has guardianship paperwork," Snow replied.
Diskin told him the paperwork was fraudulent and asked Snow if he had ever had guardianship of Casey, as Stiffler had suggested.
"I have been told that I have and I've also seen paperwork that looks just like that indicating that I supposedly had custody of him."
It was one of the more tortured answers Diskin or Huante had ever heard.
Diskin then changed the subject: "Why is Casey here?" he asked.
"He is avoiding a special group of people that he had encounters with whenever he was very, very young." Snow said. He went on to say that there was a "large group" of sexual predators that Casey was trying to stay away from.
Diskin reminded Snow that he was a convicted sex offender.
Snow said "the people" who gave him guardianship were aware of that and that he had been "clean" with "no problems at all."
"Up until now, apparently," Snow added.
Snow explained that Casey had also been enrolled in another school near Payson, 110 miles through rugged terrain to the east. There, Snow said, Casey was enrolled under the name Casey Rodreick. Casey, he said, had taken his mother's last name, Price, after his parents divorced.
"I'm only going on what I've been told," Snow said several times.
Wait, he was saying he turned custody over to Lonnie, yet never even knew he had custody. Diskin was having trouble not laughing at the absurdity of Snow's claims.
Snow said he obtained custody directly from Casey's parents through the court in Riverside, California. He had never actually met Casey's parents.
Snow explained in greater depth.
He said he met Casey on the Internet while Casey was living in Oklahoma. Then Casey's parents got divorced. Linda Price left for Germany without Casey, so Snow decided to take custody of him. He said he got custody paperwork "through Casey's e-mail."
Diskin noted that if this were true, Casey already would have been living with Snow before Snow received the custody paperwork.
"Casey came down for a visit," Snow replied.
Diskin told Snow he was "just making stuff up. We already know Casey was enrolled in school in El Mirage."
Snow then changed his story, saying that he was wrong when he said he had moved with Casey from Payson directly to Chino Valley. In fact, they had moved from Payson to El Mirage, then to Chino Valley.
Diskin was still confused by Snow's claim that Casey had been enrolled in Payson under the name Casey Rodreick.
How, asked Diskin, did you enroll Casey in the Payson school with no paperwork saying his name was now Casey Rodreick?
Snow then explained that Casey's parents had enrolled him in the Payson school: "His mother took care of that because they had his mother's home number and name."
Diskin asked, "She flew from Germany to enroll him in school?"
"She was in Oklahoma at the time," Snow said.
"Do you have her number?"
"No," Snow responded.
Snow was asked if he ever considered calling Casey's mother.
"No," Snow said.
Asked why Casey's birth certificate was from Germany, Snow explained that Casey's parents had been married in Riverside, then Casey was born in Germany, then they moved to Oklahoma, then divorced, then the parents moved back to Germany.
Snow said they began communicating with Casey through MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. Snow said he and Stiffler moved from Riverside to Arizona to be closer to Oklahoma, where Casey was living with his brothers. Casey's brothers were now living with their grandmother in Oklahoma. Snow said he never met Casey's family when he and Stiffler went to pick him up in Oklahoma to bring him to Arizona.
Snow said "a friend" brought Casey to the motel where he and Stiffler were staying.
Snow said Mike Masters, the U.S. Marshal and attorney cited in the custody paperwork, was "one of Casey's friends."
Snow said they gained custody of Casey two years ago.
That would mean Casey was 10 at the time.
And Casey's mom, Snow said, knew that Snow was a convicted sex offender.
Diskin mentioned that it was odd for a mother to hand over a child to a convicted sex offender several states away in Arizona. It would be odd, too, for a 10-year-old to have a U.S. Marshal for a friend, let alone a U.S. Marshal friend who would hand a 10-year-old over to a convicted sex offender in Arizona.
Snow said he talked to Masters on the Internet and that Masters agreed it was better for Casey to live with him than go into a foster home.
Diskin told Snow he believed he was lying and that the paperwork was fraudulent.
"Those papers came from the Internet," he said. "We did not make those up personally ourselves, at all."
Snow looked perplexed. "How could I make up those papers?" he asked Diskin.
The question was too stupid to deserve an answer.
Diskin returned to the room where "Grandpa" Stiffler was waiting.
He began asking Stiffler many of the same questions he asked Snow.
How did you meet Casey? How did he end up here? Did you talk to his mother?
Diskin related Stiffler's answers in his police report the next day:
"We were just talking to him on the Internet just chatting," Stiffler said. "We asked if he could come visit for awhile. We told Casey to 'ask your mother and have your mother talk to us.'"
Stiffler received an e-mail that began: "This is Linda, Casey's mom," he said. She said it would be fine for Casey to come visit.
Diskin asked Stiffler how he knew it was actually Casey's mom.
"She was there, she was typing on the Internet."
Most likely, Stiffler was simply lying. But another theory began to creep into the minds of the officers. Perhaps Stiffler himself had been duped in some way by the other men in the trailer.
With all this talk of Internet chats, Diskin asked Stiffler if he owned a computer. Stiffler said no.
Diskin asked who owned the laptop sitting in the living room.
"The one out there, the laptop, is mine," Stiffler said, "but I don't use it for Internet purposes, for any type of communication." Stiffler said the computer he talked to Casey with had "burnt up." Stiffler said he only uses the laptop in the living room to "check my mail. I don't check for anything else, don't go into no chat rooms or anything like that."
With those tortured answers, Detective Diskin knew that the computer hard drives in the trailer likely were going to provide a wealth of evidence.
E-mails, pictures, videos.
Also, there were boxes of DVDs and videos next to a television in Casey's room. Diskin discovered that Stiffler and Snow had purchased a flat-screen television, computer, and PlayStation for Casey.
It didn't take too much detective work for the cops to know to check the home's video collection: There was a porno playing on the living-room TV when they entered.
Diskin's hunch about finding incriminating images in the home proved correct.
What he didn't realize at the time, though, is just how painful it can be for officers to view what sexual predators find pleasurable.
Officers agreed it was time to turn up the heat on the suspects. Huante and Diskin confronted Stiffler, telling him his story didn't make any sense. Diskin told Stiffler he believed there was "more to the story." There's a reason you went to Oklahoma with a convicted sex offender to pick up a child, Diskin told Stiffler.
Huante and Diskin then left the room to let Stiffler stew. They went back to Snow to confront him.
They asked Snow about his sexual relationship with Casey.
After some prodding, Snow finally admitted to an ongoing sexual relationship with Casey. He admitted that the reason he and Stiffler had gone to Oklahoma to bring Casey to Arizona was to have sex with him. Snow said he knew Casey was only 12 years old. He admitted to having a sexual attraction to children.
Snow admitted that he saw e-mails from Casey with photos of Casey "naked with his brothers."
But they were e-mails to Stiffler, Snow said. And Snow said that though he never looked at child porn on the computer, he had witnessed Stiffler viewing porn several times.
The men were beginning to turn on each other.
Still believing Casey was a minor, Diskin and Huante had Snow detail the sex acts he engaged in with Casey.
Diskin did not detail Snow's answers in his police report. By the time he wrote it, he knew what he didn't know at the time that the sex was actually between two legal adults.
In another room, Detective Mike Poling was questioning the person he thought was 12-year-old Casey Price. Casey continued to look down at the floor, and said little.
Casey then stood up and asked Deputy Boan, whom he had talked to earlier and who had begun the investigation with a visit to the school, if he could speak with him outside.
Boan, too, still thought he was talking to 12-year-old Casey.
Once outside, Casey told Boan that the other detectives inside were making him nervous. Boan promised Casey that he would do everything in his power to ensure that he would be safe.
Casey said he also felt uncomfortable with Robert Snow being in the house. Casey told Boan that Robert "acts gay" around him and creeps him out.
Casey then told Boan that he had twice awakened with his underwear down. He suspected that Snow had sodomized him, because Snow would make him sit on his lap while Snow touched himself. Casey said he takes medication that makes him sleepy and that Snow might have "done stuff" to him while he was passed out.
"Casey insisted that nothing else was going on and he felt safe in the house," Boan wrote in a later police report.
Child Protective Services was called as officers learned that they had an abused child on their hands.
Boan directed Casey to an unmarked police car to wait for CPS caseworkers to arrive.
After talking to Snow, Diskin walked into the room with Lonnie Stiffler and announced:
"Robert told us everything."
Stiffler admitted to seeing the e-mailed photos of Casey naked.
Finally, Stiffler admitted to having sex with Casey.
But it was only three times, he said. And he hadn't had sex with Casey in more than two months.
At this point, detectives believed they had a theory as to what was happening here: Two men, Robert Snow and Lonnie Stiffler, had lured a boy from Oklahoma to turn into their personal sex toy.
But what about this other guy in the house, 34-year-old Brian Nellis?
Sergeant Huante began questioning Nellis, whom Stiffler had first claimed was the older of his two grandsons and Casey's cousin.
After the long interview with Nellis, the reality of the situation came into sharper focus for the detectives.
And it got a lot more complicated.
Nellis first told Huante that he had met Casey when the boy was 8 or 9 years old. Nellis said Casey's father, Neil Rodreick Sr., used to give him rides to college in Oklahoma. One day, he said, Rodreick came to him and asked if he could watch Casey. Casey's dad never came back.
Nellis admitted that he also was a convicted sex offender.
Nellis said Casey moved out of his home in El Mirage in 2004, leaving an e-mail that he had moved in with Snow and Stiffler.
Nellis explained that his criminal conviction was for committing lewd acts with a 7-year-old.
Huante told Nellis that both Stiffler and Snow had admitted to having sex with Casey.
Nellis said he had no knowledge of that. If he had known, he said, he would have done something about it. He had learned his lesson in prison, he said. When he sees child-pornography stories, he said, "it tears me up."
Huante left the room and spoke with a detective who had spoken with Nellis earlier. The other detective said Nellis had told her a different story.
Nellis then said he had lied to the first detective.
At that point, the detectives told Nellis he was under arrest for failing to register as a sex offender.
That news seemed to break Nellis' will to keep up the lie.
Huante told Nellis he was sick of the games. "You must think I'm stupid if you expect me to believe your story."
Huante said this moments after Casey had walked out to talk to Boan about feeling uncomfortable in the trailer.
Nellis broke: "Okay, if you want the truth, here it is:
"That young man that just walked out the door ain't 12 years old. He's 29. He was born November 22, 1977. His name is Neil Haven Rodreick."
Nellis explained that he knew all this because the two were in prison together at the Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Rodreick was his best friend, like a brother to him, he said.
And when Nellis came to visit his best buddy in El Mirage, Arizona, he was told by Rodreick that he had changed his name and his date of birth.
And Nellis was told he was no longer just a friend. He was now Casey Price's cousin and guardian.
Diskin marched outside to the unmarked CPS car and told Casey, really Neil Rodreick, to get out of the back seat. He had a few questions.
Diskin wrote in his report that Rodreick acted like "a scared child."
Rodreick was wearing glasses and a baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes. It was now past 9 p.m. and dark outside the trailer.
"You look like Neil," Diskin said.
Rodreick seemed surprised by the comment, Diskin wrote. Still, he said nothing and continued to look at the ground.
We know who you are, Diskin said. We're going to get your photo from the Department of Corrections in Oklahoma.
Diskin read Rodreick his Miranda rights. He asked Rodreick if he understood. Rodreick mumbled incoherently.
Diskin asked several times. Rodreick finally nodded his head.
Diskin said he knew that Rodreick had forged all of the custody papers. He told Neil that he needed to admit who he was now. If he allowed CPS caseworkers to take him, he would face additional charges, Diskin told him.
Diskin then shined his flashlight on Rodreick's face. He realized in the light that Rodreick was wearing a heavy coat of makeup to cover his true age. On closer inspection, Diskin saw stubble beneath the makeup.
"Twelve-year-olds don't usually have a mustache," he said.
Rodreick remained silent.
It's time to come clean, Diskin said. He asked Rodreick why he was attending school.
"I wanted to go to school," Rodreick said quietly.
Are you Neil?
Rodreick mumbled, "No."
Who are you?
Rodreick's answers began to agitate Detective Diskin.
"Stop the act!" Diskin said. Diskin and Huante peppered Rodreick with questions. Diskin asked Rodreick what he'd been convicted of.
Finally, the façade began to fall.
"Indecent proposal," he answered, after a long pause.
Rodreick began to cry. Through tears, he began answering the officers' questions.
He was 29 years old. He was Neil Havens Rodreick II.
Diskin and Huante told Rodreick they knew he was having sex with Snow and Stiffler.
Rodreick described it differently, saying he just "played around" with them.
By that point, Diskin and Huante weren't surprised by what they heard next. They were already beginning to suspect that Rodreick and Nellis, the former cellmates, were confidants in some sort of scam of which Stiffler and Snow were not aware.
Rodreick said that both Stiffler and Snow still believed he was actually 12-year-old Casey Price.
As Rodreick told his story, caseworkers from Child Protective Services arrived at the trailer. Diskin approached their vehicle and explained their services would no longer be needed.
Detective Diskin walked back inside the trailer to deliver the news to Stiffler. Apparently, Nellis, who was sitting with Stiffler, had just told him that 12-year-old Casey was actually 29-year-old Neil Rodreick.
Diskin said Stiffler appeared to be "very agitated."
"I just found out information I didn't know about," Stiffler told the detective.
Diskin asked Nellis whose idea it was for Casey to go to school.
"I believe it was Casey's," Nellis said, still using the fictitious name.
"It was my idea for Casey to get back in school," Stiffler said. "It was not ordered by me, it was ordered by the U.S. Marshal."
"You still believe there is a U.S. Marshal?" Diskin asked with disdain. "Are you kidding me?"
"Sir, I'm just telling you what I was told," the old man said.
"Stiffler," Diskin wrote in his report, "did not appear to fully understand that he had been scammed."
Stiffler started yelling.
"I just found out he was 29! I didn't know his correct age!"
The implications of Stiffler's rage finally registered with Diskin.
Diskin asked Stiffler if he would normally look for a 29-year-old boyfriend.
"No, not really," Stiffler said.
Diskin asserted that Stiffler wouldn't have had sex with Rodreick if he had known Rodreick's true age.
Stiffler, still agitated, yelled, "I did not know his correct age until I just found out from Brian!"
"Stiffler did not appear to be embarrassed about having sex with a 12 year old, but he appeared ashamed that he had sex with a 29 year old," Diskin wrote in his report.
During the questioning, Diskin commented on the new flat-screen television, computer, and PlayStation Portable in "Casey's" room, presents from Stiffler and Snow. He asked Stiffler if he would have given presents like that to a 29-year-old.
"Because he can work and go out and get his own TV!"
Nellis explained to Diskin, and Stiffler, that Rodreick had told him not to ever tell Stiffler and Snow his true age. Nellis said he didn't know Rodreick was "playing them as a 12-year-old" until Stiffler and Snow paid for Nellis to fly from Oklahoma to Arizona two years ago.
Rodreick, Nellis, and Snow were arrested. At the least, they were convicted sex offenders who had failed to register as such in Chino Valley.
Stiffler wasn't arrested at that time. After all, he hadn't had sex with a 12-year-old. Apparently unbeknownst to him, he had had only legal consensual sex with an adult.
Investigators then began to collect evidence from the trailer. They were most interested in the computers, DVDs, and videos.
As they did, Stiffler, still apparently upset, muttered several times:
"I didn't know he was 29."
Over the following week, investigators sifted through the evidence and combed the four schools Rodreick had briefly attended for possible victims.
They found little other than shocked parents, children, and teachers at the schools. Sure, Casey looked older than 12. A few saw the makeup and the facial stubble. But he generally kept to himself.
He was 29? Unbelievable!
It was weird enough to make national headlines.
Investigators continue to look for potential victims from the four schools. They fear victims may be embarrassed to step forward.
They are also concerned there may be a victim among the members of the skating club Rodreick formed in El Reno, Oklahoma, before moving to Arizona. There, he posed as a 13-year-old.
Along the trail of Rodreick, Nellis, Snow, and Stiffler, from California to Oklahoma to Arizona, investigators found a few cases of potential fraud and several cases of the men failing to report their crimes to local communities.
But by far the most damning and disturbing evidence came from the videos and computers taken from the group's trailer home in Chino Valley.
On January 25, Sergeant Huante and another detective began viewing the images taken from the trailer, looking for evidence for the trial.
They found hundreds of examples of child pornography in one shoebox alone.
In that box, they found a Memorex CD with seven files recorded on it. The seven files, which contain images of male juveniles performing sex acts, may be all that's needed to keep Neil Rodreick behind bars for life.
The sixth and seventh files are the most disturbing, according to the police report:
"They are what appear to be home movies of Neil Rodreick and a young blond male who appears to be between the ages of 10 and 13 years old. The recording appears as if it had been made in a motel room. The boy is witnessed on the bed wearing a T-shirt that has 'Minnekah 2001' printed on the front of it. Minnekah is a city in Oklahoma where Rodreick is from.
"Rodreick is seen in the video on the bed with the boy. Rodreick masturbates the boy and has the boy do the same to him. Rodreick performs oral copulation on the boy by placing his mouth on the boy's exposed penis. Rodreick then appears to penetrate the boy's anal area with his penis and also rubs his penis on the boy's penis."
Rodreick's face is very clear, "and there is even a point in the recording that exposes several moles he had on his back," the investigators wrote in their report.
In the video, "the boy [name redacted] is aware he is being recorded as he wanted to view the recording to see how it is progressing."
Investigators immediately began searching for the juvenile.
They found him when the boy's mother contacted authorities after seeing stories about Rodreick. Investigators also found child pornography on the hard drives of the computers found in the trailer.
In all, more than 1,300 child-pornography images were found in the trailer, which will probably lead to federal charges against the four men.
All four have now been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit forgery, and Rodreick, Snow, and Nellis were charged with failing to register as sex offenders.
Most serious: Rodreick faces felony molestation charges stemming from the videotaped sex with the Oklahoma boy. Because he has an earlier conviction, Rodreick could face life in prison if convicted in the case.
As the charges have piled up, Rodreick's attorney, Steve August, has begun amassing evidence that Rodreick himself is a victim.
He may have a case, at least for some mitigation in sentencing.
"One thing to bear in mind is that, thankfully, there are no alleged victims of any sexual offense within Arizona," August tells New Times.
Already, Rodreick's aunt has confirmed that Neil was himself sexually abused by neighbors while growing up in Oklahoma.
August also points out that Stiffler and Snow purchased a television and computer for Rodreick, as well as providing him with a home full of child pornography.
August believes Rodreick is psychologically stuck in adolescence, a sort of arrested development brought on by trauma. In addition to the sexual abuse, Rodreick's mother died when he was 14.
Rodreick was living under coercion and duress at the trailer, August suggests. He was the victim once again of predators, who showed him porn to keep him brainwashed.
"Here we have a young man with a very traumatized past, indeed, a past where he himself was victimized repeatedly," August says.
"Mr. Rodreick, I believe, was operating under an obvious mental disability that led him to believe that he was again a 12-year-old boy," he says. "He seemed convinced that he had to enroll in school like any other 12-year-old. He had to be home on time like any other 12-year-old boy. And he had to mind his elders like any other 12-year-old boy.
"And this is where he gets into trouble."
August points to the case of the Missouri boy who stayed with his abductor even though the boy seemed to have numerous chances to leave.
The analogy to the infamous Missouri case may save August's client from a life in prison.
There's only one problem:
Unlike the Missouri teenager, the teenager in this case isn't real.
He's actually 29-year-old convicted sex offender Neil Rodreick.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.