Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Walter Nelee Jr., 48, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility after allegedly propositioning a 15-year-old girl inside the female restroom at Firth Park.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Walter Nelee Jr., 48, of Bylas, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on Friday after allegedly propositioning a 15-year-old girl in the female restroom of Firth Park.
Officers responded to an address in the 800 block of W. Court Street at about 12:58 p.m. regarding the alleged assault and were informed of what had transpired at Firth Park.
According to the victim, she and a friend went to use the facilities and upon entering encountered two women and two men inside the female restroom. The women were identified as Evelyn Young and Christina Donham, while the men were identified as Nelee Jr. and Sonny Jones, who previously was given a citation for assault for allegedly striking another homeless woman but was not taken to jail due to his intoxication level.
The victim said that Nelee Jr. initially approached her and her friend and petted a dog they had with them. After the girls finished their business, however, the victim said Nelee Jr. introduced himself to her and asked if he could shake her hand. While shaking the victim’s hand, Nelee Jr. allegedly propositioned the 15-year-old girl by using a euphemism for sexual intercourse. The victim said she had to then forcibly pull hard to break the grip Nelee Jr. had on her hand.
After receiving the information from the victim and her friend, the officer responded to Firth Park and located the four individuals. Nelee allegedly told the officer that he was just holding the girls’ puppy while they were in the restroom and denied assaulting anyone.
Jones said he left the restroom immediately after the girls entered, and Donham said she saw Nelee with the puppy and that was it. Young said she saw one of the two males that were with her touch one of the girls but she declined to say which one it was.
The officer then retrieved the girls and they positively identified Nelee as the man who propositioned the girl while enthusiastically shaking her hand. The girls identified Nelee while being unseen in the back of the officer’s patrol vehicle while the victim’s mother was in the front seat.
While placing Nelee under arrest, the officer discovered two 24-ounce cans of Milwaukee Best beers inside a backpack Nelee was holding. Nelee was then transported to the jail and booked on charges of assault and possession of liquor in the park, which is against the Safford City Code.
Safford officials have long attempted to curb the issues and problems with homeless people at Firth Park and have increased enforcement of liquor violations and have considered additional surveillance cameras at the entrance of the restrooms, which are sometimes used by homeless and other people to ingest illicit substances.