Police fear molestation of hundreds of children
A man arrested last month in Snohomish County on suspicion of molesting two California boys may be one of the most prolific child molesters...
Seattle Times staff reporter
A man arrested last month in Snohomish County on suspicion of molesting two California boys may be one of the most prolific child molesters in the country, say police in San Jose, Calif.
Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, 63, who has several convictions for child molestation, was arrested May 23 in Everett while visiting a longtime friend and extradited last week to San Jose. He is being held without bail in connection with the molestation of two boys.
During a search of Schwartzmiller's San Jose home, police discovered seven spiral notebooks with 1,360 pages of handwritten lists of names of boys and their descriptions as well as codes that police say indicate various sex acts. Police estimate the lists chronicle 36,000 incidents and at least hundreds of victims. Some of the names are listed multiple times. Police could not say whether each entry represented an actual sexual assault.
"If it turns out these numbers are true, then he may go down in history as the most prolific child molester we've ever seen in San Jose and one of the biggest in the country," San Jose police Lt. Scott Cornfield said.
The names on the lists were categorized according to the type of sex acts, the age of the boys and other codes whose meaning is unclear — such as an "F" or "X" at the end of the entry.
There are no dates on the lists, but police suspect they may go back as far as 30 years, and they include the names of some cities such as Las Vegas, Cornfield said. Schwartzmiller has lived in or traveled to Washington, New York, Idaho, Oregon, California, Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Mexico and Brazil. Police said he had been concealing his identity for the past five years and has used numerous aliases. It also appears he has not registered as a sex offender as required by law, police said.
The search of Schwartzmiller's home also turned up a computer server and several computers. Police have sent the equipment to a crime lab. Also found were several binders containing hundreds of images of child pornography, according to San Jose police spokesman Nick Muyo.
Police also arrested Schwartzmiller's roommate — another convicted child molester — Fred Everts. Everts was wanted for violating parole in Oregon related to child-molestation convictions, and also was charged with child molestation in San Jose, including at least one count involving one of Schwartzmiller's two alleged victims.
In Snohomish County, Schwartzmiller was charged in February 1997 with one count of first-degree child molestation, two counts of second-degree child molestation and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. He was acquitted later that year by a Snohomish County Superior Court jury.
According to Snohomish County court records, Schwartzmiller, who was 55 at the time, was accused of molesting two brothers, ages 13 and 9, during a four-month period in 1996. The boys described Schwartzmiller as a longtime family friend.
In 1984, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld a 1978 conviction for molesting two 14-year-old boys and characterized Schwartzmiller as a "repeat offender" who "uses his intelligence to take advantage of the weak and oppressed and those who are in need." After serving prison time in Idaho for child molestation in the late 1970s, he lived in Brazil, and was extradited from there to Idaho in the late 1980s, Cornfield said.
Schwartzmiller also has a 1989 felony conviction in Idaho equivalent to third-degree statutory rape in Washington. He was convicted in 1993 for sodomy and sex abuse in Multnomah County, Ore., and spent four years in prison before violating parole and fleeing the state.
Despite his acquittal in Snohomish County, police in San Jose said it is "very likely" there are other victims in Washington. Police are asking anyone with information about Schwartzmiller to call the San Jose Police Department's Child Exploitation Division at 408-277-4102. People who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 408-947-STOP.
Officials hope that publicizing the case will prompt more victims to come forward.
"We want victims to realize this guy is in custody," Cornfield said. "Most of these people probably have never told anybody what happened to them."
Andrea Flint, the Santa Clara County public defender who will likely represent Schwartzmiller, told The San Jose Mercury-News that she doesn't begrudge the police splashing his name and face all over the news, because it's the most efficient way to investigate him.
Investigators suspect Schwartzmiller has developed personal relationships with families or made friends with children through his job as a handyman or construction worker, Cornfield said. Authorities are trying to retrace his movements over the past several years.
"We think he uses his movement and hiding his identity to continue doing this to kids," Muyo said.
Cornfield said he did not know why Schwartzmiller was in Washington, but that "he obviously has contacts in that area."
According to a news release yesterday from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, Schwartzmiller was arrested May 23 while walking in the 500 block of 124th Place Southwest in Everett.
Lynda Pichler of Everett yesterday described Schwartzmiller as a longtime family friend who attended Snohomish High School with her parents. She said Schwartzmiller had spent the night at her home the day before his arrest in Everett.
When they were growing up, Pichler and her three brothers were spoiled by Schwartzmiller, she said. She said her own daughters think of him as a grandfather.
Whenever Schwartzmiller was in town "he would spend an afternoon at our house," said Pichler, 45. "He loved to spoil us kids."
Schwartzmiller waived extradition rights for his return to Santa Clara County, Calif., where he is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under age 14, and six counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child under 14, with each count alleging multiple victims.
Nick Martin: 206-464-3896 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporters Jennifer Sullivan, Christopher Schwarzen and Maureen O'Hagan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.