A Florida man who possessed hundreds of images depicting sexual abuse of children and at least three images of bestiality was flagged to authorities when a messaging app reported his account after he uploaded one of the abusive images online, deputies said.
Deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Zachary Richard Heath Ward, 29, on Monday.
“Between the Defendant’s Kik and Dropbox accounts, your Affiant observed over seven hundred (700) files of child pornography, and three (3) files containing acts of bestiality,” said the probable cause affidavit for Ward’s arrest.
According to the sheriff’s office, the Kik Messenger app sent the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children a tip on July 21 after someone uploaded child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to the app’s platform.
A search warrant turned up seven more files containing the abusive material, authorities said. The defendant’s account allegedly transmitted two of them to other Kik accounts between April 27 and April 28, 2021.
“Your Affiant served a lawfully obtained subpoena for the IP address [redacted],” deputies wrote. “The subpoena return revealed this IP Address was a Natting IP Address, which means multiple users are capable of using the IP at the same time. Your Affiant located the phone number [starting with] 706-utilizing the above IP address, which was later determined to be the defendant’s phone number.”
Investigators said they executed a search warrant at Ward’s home in December 2022. Post-Miranda, he declined to answer questions without a lawyer, they said.
More evidence on his iPhone allegedly included messages from his Yahoo email address. A folder, titled “Girls,” was in his account and contained subfolders titled with girls’ names and ages, which ranged from 12 to 18, deputies said.
Ward faces 30 counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of transmission of child pornography, three counts of bestiality, and one count of use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.
He was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail on Friday, where he remains locked up on a $345,000 bond. He has no attorney of record.
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