Twenty-one-year old Willard Yoder of Milroy, IN got more than he bargained for when he rolled up for an anticipated rendezvous with a twelve-year-old girl at a Connersville eatery. Police officers were sitting in unmarked cars waiting in anticipation and they quickly nabbed the suspect.
“We set up in our positions, and we heard the vehicle coming down the roadway,” Connersville Detective Craig Pennington said. “We thought, ‘Well, this is obviously going to be it.’”
Yoder was quickly apprehended and put up no resistance. Officers even allowed him to unhinge his horse and tie it to a post outside before shoving him into the back of a patrol car. “It is a bit unusual,” another officer noted. “I was pretty sure when the buggy rolled up that this was our guy, but when I saw the face and the bowl haircut (from the photos) I knew for sure.”
Yoder, according to police reports, had used a newly acquired cell phone to send out random text messages to what he hoped to be prospective female partners. When he got a response from a twelve-year-old girl, he flooded the shocked sixth grader with more than 600 sexual messages, nude photos, and lewd videos in hopes of luring her into sex. He instead earned the attention of the child’s mother. The mother and her husband began communicating with Yoder (posing as their daughter) and the police (as themselves), and the authorities set up the sting that took place in Connersville.
To the residents of the community of 13,000, the scene came as a bit of a surprise. “The Amish are nice people,” a man who chose not to share his name indicated. “I admire them for their ability to restrict themselves the way they do. Obviously every group is going to have a few loons in it.”
“They’re putting a roof on my barn,” Bob Miller stated. “They have one phone box that sits just at the end of the road and I have to call at certain times to get in contact with them. It’s a pain in the ass, but you can’t beat their prices.”
Some other witnesses weren’t so kind with their comments. “It’s one less buggy to clog up our roadways,” an angry woman leaving the restaurant growled. “I hate those ******* things with the fire of a thousand suns.”
Amish typically give young adults a period of time to explore the outside world and discover themselves in order to make the decision of whether or not to return to the lifestyle or live in the outside world. If the latter is chosen, no one from the sect is supposed to communicate with them again.
Yoder has thus far been charged with four counts of child solicitation, but more charges are likely to come. He entered a plea of not guilty and was released on a 20,000 dollar bond. Court records indicate that Yoder has not yet obtained a lawyer.
Calls to the Amish phone box were unanswered.