Week Two--Posing as a Family, Sex Offenders Stun a Town
29-year-old Neil H. Rodreick II was a convicted sex offender who, instead of registering, conned three men and an entire community into believing he was actually a 12-year-old boy.
In 2002, after spending seven years in prison on a charge of indecent proposals to two 6-year-old boys, Rodreick met up with Lonnie Stiffler, 61, and Robert J. Snow, 43, over the internet and began sexual relationships with the men after convincing the two that he was 12 years old. Jennifer Steinhauer of The New York Times added:
Another man living in the house, Brian Nellis, 34, a sex offender Mr. Rodreick had met in prison, is believed to have aided Mr. Rodreick in the ruse, the authorities said.
Rodreick talked the three men into registering him into four charter schools in Arizona under the name (or a variation of the name) â€œCasey Priceâ€? and was eventually caught in Surprise Ariz. after about four months of enrollment at Imagine Charter School. He had been posing as a minor for almost two years.
Steinhauer leads the reader in with a storytelling approach where she tells us about this seemingly all-American boy whose only imperfection is a poor attendance history. She gives the sense that something is not right in this puzzle, and encourages us to continue reading about a boy who is obviously not what he seems, until ultimately she reveals Priceâ€™s true identity. This story evokes anticipation. As a reader, I want to know more about this person, and how he was able to scam the whole community.
The Associated Press offers a punchy delivery of a lead and is more straight forward than the one published in the New York Times:
A convicted sex offender attended at least two Arizona middle schools, sat through seventh-grade courses and turned in homework as he moved around the state pretending to be 12 years old, officials say.
However, this quick stab approach seems to be too punchy in the sense that we are jumping from point to point without much correlation.
Both stories do a great job announcing the key points to the event. The AP article depicts the â€œboyâ€? as being shy and disciplinary, but does not give way into the suspicions of parents of children who attended the charter school in Surprise, Ariz. Steinhauer reports that although some community members were easily fooled, others questioned himâ€”school director Dawn Gonzales said, â€œEvery adult that encountered him said something here is not right. â€œHe just looked older. They kept saying, â€˜Are you sure he is 12?â€™â€?
And although it is a bit lengthier, Steinhauerâ€™s version of the story is easier to follow with its use of chronology.