Detective in Racine Co. hunts down, prosecutes sexual predators

RACINE (WITI) -- One investigator in Racine County has the sole job of tracking down sexual predators in the newly created Internet Crimes Against Children position.

"It's our mission to target them, to literally hunt them down, and to arrest them," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

Last week, the detective assigned to that position found an internet posting on Craigslist from 50-year-old Ronald Niehus -- in the personals section. In addition to explicit photos and language, the post read, "the younger the better and curious guys welcome."

The detective messages Niehus pretending to be a 15-year-old boy named "Erik." The officer arranged for the two to meet at a house in Union Grove, but instead of meeting "Erik," the Williams Bay man was arrested by a tactical team.

"We've taken a predator off the streets. Now, I don't know this individual personally, and I don't know what he would've done in the future, but I can tell you he was looking to meet a 15-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity with," said Schmaling.

The Sheriff says it cost about $100,000 to create the new position within the department and believes the investment is paying off.

"If we can prevent one child from being molested, this money is money well spent," said Schmaling. "It takes a very special investigator to be able to have this type of dialogue with these very sick, perverted individuals."

Schmaling says this type of work can wear down even an experienced detective and plans to rotate staff in and out of the position. Authorities warn parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing online, including knowing their social media passwords.