Albemarle cops: Man connected to girl’s disappearance arrested on child porn charges

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Jonathan Messer. Photo courtesy Albemarle County Police. Jonathan Messer. Photo courtesy Albemarle County Police.

Update Friday, October 25 9:38am:

The man arrested in connection with the October 18 disappearance of a Dunlora teen is accused of committing multiple offenses relating to child pornography in the five days preceding the incident, according to arrest warrants filed in Albemarle Charlottesville Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

According to the warrants, 24-year-old Jonathan Lee Messer, of Kingsport, Tennessee, who is charged with use of a communications system to procure or promote child pornography, preparing to produce child pornography, and two counts of possession of child pornography, allegedly committed the offenses from October 13 to 18, the day the 16-year-old Albemarle High School junior disappeared. She was found walking on Rio Road the following morning by a neighbor.

Messer, who was arrested in Virginia Beach on October 23, will appear in Juvenile Court today at 1:30pm.

Original post:

Albemarle County police have announced the arrest of a Tennessee man they say was connected to the disappearance of a county teen who vanished from her Dunlora home last Friday only to reappear the following morning.

Jonathan Lee Messer, 24, was arrested Wednesday in Virginia Beach for production or distribution of child pornography, use of electronic means for child pornography, and two counts of possession of child pornography—felony charges that originated in Albemarle, police said. He’s being held without bail at the Virginia Beach City Jail.

Police would not say how Messer was connected to the disappearance of the 16-year-old girl, an Albemarle High School junior whose parents told NBC29 was abducted Friday night and issued an impassioned plea for her return on Facebook. She was found 11 hours later by a neighbor who spotted her walking on Rio Road. County police said Tuesday that “the parties involved were not unknown to each other.”

Officer Tonya Borman of the Virginia Beach Police Department said Messer, who is employed by the U.S. Navy, was picked up by Naval Criminal Investigative Service officers Wednesday. NCIS turned him over to  Virginia Beach police, who served him with the warrants, Borman said. Albemarle police are moving Messer to their jurisdiction, she said.

Albemarle County Police spokeswoman Carter Johnson said that because the investigation is ongoing and involves a minor victim, few other details could be released at this time. “But we wanted to get this out to the community, because there’s been so much fear” surrounding the disappearance of Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy, she said. “This suspect is in custody. This was not a random act.”

The Albemarle teen’s father declined to comment on the arrest. Calls to Messer’s late mother’s home in Kingsport, Tennessee were not immediately returned.This is a developing story. Check cville.com for updates.

 

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