Online sexual predators lured to Graham County under the guise of ‘hooking up’ with 14-year-old girls

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Billy Ray Bishop, 68, of Sierra Vista, left, and Christopher Decker, 28, were both arrested and booked into jail after allegedly traveling to Safford to have sexual relations with who they believed to be 14-year-old girls.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Like a scene from the former television show “To Catch a Predator”, two men were lured to Graham County under the guise of “hooking up” with 14-year-old girls only to find an arrest team waiting for them. 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Billy Bishop

Detectives with the Arizona Department of Public Safety conducted an Internet Crimes Against Children operation in which they posed as 14-year-old girls while interacting with older men on social media applications. 

Detectives created an undercover profile on a location-based social networking and dating application called “Badoo” on Aug. 7 and were contacted that night by Billy Ray Bishop, 68, of Sierra Vista. 

According to preliminary DPS reports, the detective – posing as a 14-year-old girl – corresponded with Bishop, who engaged in sexually inappropriate conversation. Bishop eventually asked the detective to move their conversation to SnapChat, but the detective refused and instead requested Bishop text directly. 

From there, Bishop began sending lewd pictures of his genitalia and a video of him masturbating. 

Bishop then came up with a plan to visit the detective in Safford and demanded the detective send him naked pictures of what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. Bishop texted that if he didn’t receive the pictures, he would tell the “girl’s” mother and she would get into trouble. 

Bishop then agreed to meet up with the detective at the McDonald’s at 1830 W. Thatcher Blvd. on Aug. 10. When Bishop arrived at the restaurant at about 7:50 p.m., he was greeted by an arrest team and was taken into custody. 

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Billy Bishop was apprehended by an arrest team upon parking at McDonald’s.

Second man also caught

Bishop allegedly admitted to the sexual conversations, pictures, video, and coercing to have nude photos sent to him but advised he didn’t really believe the “girl” was 14 and came to Safford to find out her real age. He was then placed under arrest and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, luring a minor for sexual exploitation, aggravated luring a minor for sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, and sexual extortion.

On Aug. 9, DPS detectives created a second undercover profile on a different social media application called “MeetMe”, which is a location-based social networking and dating application.

That same day, the undercover profile was contacted by a  user named “Mr. Rogers”, who immediately asked if the detective wanted to “hook up.” The man said he was going to be driving from Deming, New Mexico to Nogales, Arizona and could stop by on the way. 

Mr. Rogers – later identified as being Christoper Decker, 28, had his account suspended, so Decker created another one under the moniker “Mr. Richard” and asked the detective for a picture. 

The detective sent a fake picture and Decker responded with, “Can we hook up at your house or do we have to do it in the car?’

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Christopher Decker

The detective advised that his profile’s mother was home and responded, “Yo just making sure ur cool w me being 14. Don’t want to waste r time.”(sic)

Decker responded he was on his way and agreed to meet in front of a hotel room. After initially requesting the detective walk across the street to meet him, Decker agreed to pull up outside of the room and informed the detective that he was outside waiting. 

At that time, an arrest team contacted Decker and took him into custody. Decker allegedly admitted to messaging the undercover detective and that he detoured his trip to meet with what he advised was a 14-year-old girl for a sexual encounter. Decker was then booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on a charge of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.  

According to a news release, the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, Safford and Thatcher police departments, and Homeland Security assisted with the operation. 

On Tuesday afternoon, both men were charged by the Graham County Attorney’s Office for their alleged crimes.