Local mom alerts investigators to nude photos on Instagram

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - Channel 9 talked to a Rowan County mother who sparked an investigation into Instagram accounts with nude pictures of teenaged girls.

This is one of many cases statewide.
 
The mother said Thursday she might not have found the page if she wasn't watching what her children did on Instagram.

“I was mad,” said the mother, who did not want to be identified. “I was angry. The mama bear comes out and you want to get to the bottom of it.”
 
She was scrolling through Instagram one night when she found a teen at a local school posted about a vulgar account that included nude photos of teen girls from Rowan County.
 
“I'm a hometown girl so that was mortifying to see and that anybody could do a search and that's what you get,” the mother said.
 
She then went to social media outlets warning other parents about the account.
 
“Every other mother reacted just as I did and was just outraged,” she said.
 
That action eventually led to Landis Police and other agencies getting involved including State Bureau of Investigation.
 
Rowan County is now one of 10 counties statewide investigating as many as 40 accounts like the one she found. 
 
Rowan County's sheriff decided to do the investigation without the help of the SBI.
 
“Whoever handles it and expedites it the quickest, that's who I'm cheering for,” the mother said.
 
No arrests have been made and the mother said it's important to her that whoever posted the photo is caught.

“I want to find out what kid or kids or teen whoever is doing this and make an example so other kids know this could potentially ruin college plans, job plans, somebody's life off of one picture,” she said.
 
Police said they believe whoever was behind the Rowan County account may have been copying what they saw from other counties.
 
The charges could be felonies including child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Counties investigating similar accounts are Wake, Durham, Pitt, Chatam, Johnston, Edgecombe, Craven, Randolph and Surry.


Police submit search warrants to Instagram over naked photos

A statewide investigation into naked pictures of young girls on Instagram is expanding Thursday night.
 
Investigators at the Landis Police Department sent a search warrant to Facebook which owns Instagram nearly two weeks ago trying to find out who is behind these pages.
           
They said so far the company hasn't responded.       
 
Instagram is a social media site that lets users share their pictures with friends.
 
The search warrant submitted by the Landis Police Department to Facebook, which owns Instagram, states investigators found more than a dozen “sexually suggestive photos” of “underage students in local public schools” on three separate Instagram pages. 
 
Investigators believe the pages were for the “sexual gratification of others” and “intended to cyberbully those depicted.”
 
Students and parents at South Rowan High School said they're embarrassed and upset that someone would do this to students.
 
 “It doesn't do nothing but just hurt people’s self-esteem,” said student Derrick Blackwell.
 
“I think it's bad, really bad,” said parent Star Atwell.

The investigator who submitted the search warrant told Channel 9 he started his investigation on Valentine ’s Day after a school resource officer told him about one of the pages.
 
He submitted the warrant to Facebook the next day requesting information about the owners of the accounts and IP addresses used to access the accounts.
           
He said he’s hoping that information will lead to an arrest, but before that can happen, police need to hear back from the company.
                       
The lead investigator said he's contacted them several times and still hasn't heard back. 
                       
He's even told a judge the company has been “uncooperative.”

Read past coverage: NC nude student photo investigation expands to Rowan Co.