In August 2016, a concerned parent of a juvenile girl from Bluffton reported finding multiple sexually explicit chats through social media apps on her mobile telephone. Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigators met with the girl and reportedly learned she had been chatting with a man over a period of a week and had also met him on one occasion and allegedly engaged in sexual activity. The juvenile’s telephone was seized and submitted to the the Sheriff’s Office Computer Crimes Unit for analysis by investigators. In addition, investigators subpoenaed records from the social media sites to assist in identifying the suspect reportedly involved in the chats and alleged sexual activity with the girl.
Over the next few months, investigators compiled information received from the Computer Crimes Unit, social media sites and follow up interviews with the girl. The information led to the identity of the alleged subject, 37-year-old Justin Watts of Savannah. After establishing the subject’s identity late last month, investigators obtained warrants for the arrest of Watts for Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor 2nd Degree, Criminal Solicitation of a Minor and Sexual Exploitation of a Minor 1st Degree from a Beaufort County magistrate. Watts was then listed in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as a wanted person.
Last week, investigators met with investigators from the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD) and advised them of the active arrest warrants on Justin Watts. With information on the case provided by Sheriff’s Office investigators, SCMPD investigators were able to obtain a warrant for the St. George Boulevard, Savannah residence of Watts to search for electronic devices. Last Thursday morning, investigators from SCMPD and the Sheriff’s Office served the search warrant on his residence. Present in his home at the time the search warrant was served, Justin Watts was taken into custody by SCMPD investigators for the active arrest warrants listed in the NCIC. During the search of his residence, SCMPD seized a mobile telephone, three laptops and various electronic storage devices belonging to Watts.
Justin Watts was transported to the Chatham County Detention Center and incarcerated pending an extradition hearing. On Tuesday, January 10, Watts was brought before a Georgia Superior Court judge and waived extradition back to Beaufort County. Wednesday morning, Sheriff’s Office deputies traveled to Chatham County and took Watts into custody then transported him to the Beaufort County Detention Center. Watts was incarcerated and is scheduled to appear before a Beaufort County magistrate Thursday for a bond hearing on the three charges. The mobile telephone, laptops and electronic storage devices seized from his residence will be forensically examined by SCMPD.