Social media tips, phone calls and emails helped officials track down and arrest a man suspected of posing as a police officer earlier this week so he could sexually assault a 9-year-old Massillon girl, according to a report in the Massillon Independent.
Dennis L. Menefee Jr., 46, of Port Washington, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree felony counts of rape and kidnapping and first-degree misdemeanor counts of assault and aggravated menacing in connection with the incident. He is expected to be arraigned in Massillon Municipal Court by Friday, Massillon Police Capt. Paul Covert said.
The girl told police she was walking home from the Massillon Public Library at about 6 p.m. Monday when a man coerced her into a pickup truck and sexually assaulted her inside. She escaped and told her stepfather what happened to her.
Hundreds of phone calls, emails and Facebook messages poured into the Massillon Police Department from people outraged about the assault. Local businesses also were asked to provide any surveillance video they had to help identify the truck or its driver, according to the Independent.
Police posted the pictures on the department’s Facebook page Tuesday evening. By Wednesday morning, the post had been shared more than 16,000 times.
“We really appreciate all the support in the community trying to identify him,” Covert told the Massillon newspaper. “Even sharing a photo on Facebook surely has its rewards. Just really appreciative of the guys I work with. They put in extra time and hours to do this. We ran down a lot of tips and finally got a good one.”
Someone who recognized the Ford F-150 extended cab pickup believed to be involved in the incident from photos shared over social media called Massillon police with a tip Wednesday morning. Photos of the truck with skull stickers, matching the description the girl provided, had been captured from surveillance video from Shearer’s Snacks, a downtown business near the library.
The girl, who was in an area hospital on Wednesday, is now recovering with family.
Meneffe was convicted in 1999 of raping his girlfriend and leaving her to die on the side of a Wyoming road, the Canton Repository reported.
According to the newspaper, Menefee spent several years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter related to the rape and death of 40-year-old Cindy Lee Dixon. Dixon was found dead of hypothermia on Jan. 3, 1999.