By Rod Rose
Assistant Managing Editor
Police used ATM records to track a child molesting suspect and his alleged victim to a small Texas town, where they were captured by Texas State Police.
Joseph Woodruff, 19, now will remain in the Boone County Jail until at least Dec. 28, when he will appear in court to ask Superior Court I Judge Matthew Kincaid to lower his bail from $5 million cash.
Kincaid set that seven-digit bail at a Nov. 21 hearing after Woodruff had been returned to Boone County. It’s the highest bail that either Kincaid or Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer can recall being set for any defendant in Boone County.
Kincaid scheduled the bail reduction hearing Monday.
Woodruff and the 14-year-old girl he allegedly had sex with were apprehended in Van Horn, Texas, about 115 miles east of El Paso, Texas, on Interstate 10, on Nov. 2.
Woodruff had posted $25,000 bond on the child molesting charge. Woodruff had received permission on Oct. 19 from Kincaid to accompany his family on what he said was a previously scheduled family vacation to Siesta Key, Fla., between Oct. 20 and 27. Kincaid told Woodruff he would have to contact his attorney and the Bankers Insurance Company, which posted his $25,000 surety bond, when he returned.
On Oct. 28, however, Woodruff’s father called police and said that his son had left a suicide note, saying he “was sorry for the pain he had caused everyone” and that he planned to drown himself by driving his pickup into the Wabash River.
The girl also left text messages with a friend, saying she might end her life; she also left a note with her parents “making them believe she may harm herself,” according to court records. Investigation by LPD Capt. Jeff Warrick and Det.-Capt. Maurice Hobson punctured both those stories.
Beginning Oct. 28, Hobson contacted family members and friends of both runaways; late that morning, one of the alleged victim’s friends admitted to Hobson that “the two suicide notes were just a lie and that both children (had) just run away.”
With help from Huntington Bank’s security department, Hobson was able to trace the use of Woodruff’s ATM card at gas stations and motels in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas. Hobson contacted the U.S. Marshals Office in Indianapolis and gained their cooperation, an action that led to the apprehension of the runaways.
After learning that Woodruff had used an ATM card in Abilene, Texas, on Nov. 1, Hobson called the U.S. Marshals Office, which then notified officials in Abilene. About 9:20 a.m. Nov. 2, the El Paso Marshals Office alerted three teams and the Texas State Police that Woodruff had used his card in Van Horn. The pair were caught within an hour, Hobson said in court records.
On Nov. 9, Woodruff was charged in Circuit Court with invasion of privacy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both class A misdemeanors, for violating a no-contact order barring him from seeing the alleged victim, and for allegedly convincing her to run away with him.
Woodruff was arrested Oct. 2 on a class B felony child molesting charge. According to court documents, during a Sept. 26 interview with LPD Det.-Sgt. Tony Bayles, Woodruff waived his Miranda rights and confessed to having sex with the victim four times.