CRIME

Firefighter accused of sexually preying on 2 Utah pre-teens via social media

Mar 20, 2024, 11:04 PM | Updated: Mar 25, 2024, 6:20 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A Pennsylvania firefighter was extradited to Utah and appeared in court on Monday. The firefighter is accused of preying on two girls in Utah through social media.

The North Park Police Department’s case against 31-year-old Daniel Roy Kromer Jr. includes several allegations about his contact with two 11-year-old victims from North Logan.

The Cache County Attorney’s Office filed eight counts against him: two counts of aggravated sexual extortion of a child, two counts of enticing a minor, and four counts of dealing in harmful material to a minor by an adult.

According to North Park Police Chief Kent W. Goodrich, the parents of one of the victims, Alyssa and Sheldon Williams, contacted detectives after finding disturbing messages on their daughter’s phone in July 2023.

“Right then and there my wife had the gut instinct to ‘let’s get the police involved,’” Sheldon Williams said.

According to court documents, Kromer contacted the girls on an application called IMVU “posing as a female” named “Ashley Ortiz.”

“(Our daughter) didn’t really have any business being on it, but she was on it… because she saw you can create an avatar,” Alyssa Williams said. “I (initially) didn’t really see any harm done because I thought it was just about creating an avatar and I didn’t really know too much about it.”

Alyssa Williams said she soon noticed a change in her daughter’s behavior and phone use.

“She just kept looking on her phone,” Alyssa Williams said “And she started acting really weird about (letting me see it). So I (knew) something was off. I started looking (through the phone) and there was this man who got in contact with her through the app and just started texting her.”

According to court documents, Kromer, under the name Ashley, told the girls that a man named Daniel was “touching her and putting his hand down her pants.” He then asked them to “call Daniel and tell him to stop.”

When the child victims allegedly contacted “Daniel,” he said he would stop “if they would send him nude photos of themselves.”

The girls allegedly sent Kromer clothed pictures of themselves which he put on his wall on the IMVU app and threatened to only take them down “if they sent him the types of pictures that he wanted.”

“Thank goodness that the victims in this case had a good enough relationship with their parents that they could go to them and talk to them,” Goodrich said. “It was reported to us as a sextortion case.”

According to Goodrich, detective Joshua Kearl identified a username and several phone numbers associated with the IMVU account and tracked them to a “general area” where they thought he might be located.

“The big break in the case came out a few months ago when the suspect reached out through a text message and said, ‘I’d like nudes. You can trust me. I’m a firefighter, here’s my fireman’s hat.’” Goodrich said.

In court documents, Kearl wrote, “Daniel was wearing a helmet with what appeared to be the number ‘34’ on it … Daniel had contacted (the victims) with several different phone numbers. One of which had the area code ‘484’ which came back to Allentown, PA.”

The detective ran with the information on the hard hat and found it connected to the Fountain Hill Fire Department.  According to the court documents, the fire chief at Fountain Hill “was able to identify the individual as Daniel Kromer Jr.”

Predators targeting more Utah teens with sextortion scams, FBI report says

“He was working as a firefighter, I believe, which is scary because public servants … we’re supposed to protect people. Not be engaged in something as atrocious,” Goodrich said.

Kearl flew to Pennsylvania where he worked with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General to serve a search warrant at Kromer’s home.

“Located on several of the devices were images of what appeared to be child pornography along with several message threads from different messaging services that indicate Daniel had been requesting child pornography from individuals, some of which appeared to be juveniles themselves,” Kearl wrote in an affidavit.

Court documents also allege Kromer sent a WhatsApp message to a “parent who was offering their toddler to Daniel to have sex with for a couple hundred dollars.”

Agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office also located police reports alleging Kromer had “taken his female cousin to the woods” and was found “straddling her” with the victim screaming.

Another allegation indicated Kromer used a vacant burn house “used for training by a local fire department” which he would advertise to women for rent. “The women would ask to see photos of the property and he would tell them to meet at the property so they could see it. Daniel also used this same property on a babysitting app offering babysitting services,” according to the arrest warrant.

Kromer is expected back in court on March 25. Goodrich said he will be prosecuted in Utah before returning to Pennsylvania to face more charges there.

Awareness and resources for parents

“I’ll put this stat out there, and it’s a scary stat,” said Michelle Busch-Upwall, an Internet Crimes Against Children training coordinator. “One in five kids is solicited online.”

Busch-Upwall said parents need to know what red flags to look for because online predators are more prevalent and more dangerous now than ever.

“So as things get scarier and more intense, those numbers are gonna go up,” she said.

“This type of creature was in contact with not just my daughter but several other children,” Alyssa Williams said. “When I read the report, it brought me to tears.”

“We’re told that this is just a slight preview of what they found,” Sheldon Williams said.

“He was on the other side of the country, but … if he would have been local, or was really, really desperate, he would’ve come here,” Alyssa Williams said.

Alyssa and Sheldon Williams hope their experience can raise awareness for other parents about the dangers children face on social media apps.

“Stop worrying about being your kids’ friends and giving them their ‘privacy.’ Check their phones, check who they’re talking to because this guy was across the country when talking to my daughter. There’s ones out there that will go as far as they can to get to their victims,” Alyssa Williams said. “Don’t let your kids be their victim.”

“A lot of times, with grooming, you’ll see a change in personality. You’ll see kids pulling away from their family and friends,” Busch-Upwall said. “When they’re pulling away from everyone, that’s when we need to open our eyes.”

Busch-Upwall said talking to kids about online predators needs to be an ongoing, age-appropriate conversation that starts as soon as they’re using the internet and social media.

“Open lines of communication with these kids is really, really important,” she said.


If you, your child, or anyone you know might be facing an internet crime against a child, please report and seek out resources for help: 

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Firefighter accused of sexually preying on 2 Utah pre-teens via social media