Cottondale Man Charged with Sexual Extortion of Teenager in Arkansas
A Cottondale man has been charged with sexual extortion of an Arkansas teenager he allegedly catfished and threatened when she tried to cut things off.
The investigation began when the victim, a teenager in Lowell, Arkansas, told area police that a man was stalking her online.
Investigators there opened a case and using social media, driver's license records and more, they determined that Dylan Echols, a 21-year-old Tuscaloosa County man, allegedly posed as a teenager himself and had been in an online relationship with the victim last year.
Believing he was 19, the two reportedly shared explicit photos on messaging platforms when the victim discovered Echols was also talking to her sister, another juvenile, and broke things off.
That's when Echols allegedly started threatening to share explicit images the victim had sent him previously and demanding more photos of the teenager and of her sister.
After the victim took the case to the police, Arkansas officers forwarded the case to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who worked with the Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to get it into the hands of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office.
TCSO deputies tracked Echols to a residence in Cottondale and brought him to their office downtown for an interview where he allegedly admitted to receiving nude pictures from the teenager in Arkansas and sending some back.
According to court documents obtained by the Thread, Echols also admitted to threatening to share her nude photos publicly online and send them to her mother if she did not continue sending him explicit material after the "breakup."
Investigators said Echols knew the victim's address and allegedly threatened to drive to Arkansas and kidnap or assault her and her sister.
Police say Echols reportedly told the victim he was born in 2003, which left her under the impression that he was 19 years old, but investigators say he is actually 21.
Echols was charged with sexual extortion, a Class B felony in Alabama, and placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Friday. He has since been released on a $30,000 bond.
Court records filed this week indicate that Echols has been released on bond, and his mugshot was not publicly available Thursday.