Video: Child molester kept detailed records

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/17/2005 11:09:32 AM ET 2005-06-17T15:09:32

Police were hoping Friday that molestation victims would step forward after a convicted child molester was arrested on charges of molesting a boy and authorities found logs suggesting that he abused thousands of children over 30 years across the United States as well as in Mexico and Brazil.

Authorities in this Northern California city said 63-year-old Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller could be the worst child abuser on record in the United States.

"We're going to find victims from throughout the country and going back as far as 30 years," San Jose Police Lt. Scott Cornfield told MSNBC TV.

During a search of his bedroom in San Jose, police discovered binders full of child porn and numerous logs with lists of more than 36,000 children’s names — mostly boys — and codes that appear to indicate how he abused them.

While some of those names are repeats, Cornfield said, "if one-tenth of these numbers are accurate, we’re looking at hundreds of victims in a number of states."

A broad media appeal for help was issued, Cornfield said, because "in most cases, we don't have last names'' of victims.

Held without bail
Schwartzmiller was being held without bail on one count of aggravated sexual assault on a child and six counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child, with each count alleging multiple victims. Those counts carry a maximum penalty of 105 years in prison, Cornfield said.

IMAGE: SCHWARTZMILLER IN 1998
AP file
Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller is seen in a 1998 San Jose police booking photo after his arrest that year for jumping parole in Oregon.
He was arrested in Washington state late last month and sent to San Jose on June 7.

Authorities said Schwartzmiller apparently gained the trust of victims and parents by working as a home renovation contractor. He also used many aliases, among them Dean Miller and Dean Harmon.

He apparently did not register as a sex offender, so his history did not appear in the “Megan’s Law” databases in California or other states, authorities said.

“It’s as shocking to me as to you,” said Sgt. Tom Sims, a supervisor with the department’s child exploitation division. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Asked if he felt this could be the worst case of child abuse ever, Sims stated: "Absolutely."

Arrested in other states
Although police said Schwartzmiller appears to have spent much of the past 30 years in California, he has also been arrested on child molestation charges in New York, Idaho, Oregon, Arkansas and Washington. Police said he also has lived in Nevada and Texas.

San Jose police got involved after Schwartzmiller allegedly befriended at least two boys in the city with gifts, invited them to his house for video games and movies, and molested them.

He also is wanted in Oregon on sexual assault charges involving a minor. He also served prison time in Idaho for child molestation in the late 1970s. He then lived in Brazil, and was extradited from there to Idaho again in the late 1980s to serve more time, Cornfield said.

Authorities also arrested Schwartzmiller’s roommate — another convicted child molester wanted for violating parole in Oregon. Fred Everts also was charged with child molestation in San Jose.

Friend: Like grandfather to kids
Schwartzmiller was arrested in Everett, Wash., on May 23 while visiting a longtime family friend, Lynda Pichler.

The Seattle Times reported that Pichler said Schwartzmiller and her parents went to high school together, and that Schwartzmiller had spent the night at her home the day before his arrest.

Pichler added that she and her three brothers were spoiled by Schwartzmiller when they were growing up and that her own daughters think of him as a grandfather.

"He loved to spoil us kids," she said.

Neighbor says she was suspicious
A San Jose neighbor of Schwartzmiller said he was always outside playing with children who used his bikes, according to The San Jose Mercury News.

"He sat in the front yard all the time hanging out with kids,'' said Lisa Thornburg, a software company worker who lives two doors down from Schwartzmiller with her two sons, ages 6 and 9.

Thornburg said she never spoke to Schwartzmiller, but noticed he always had toys in his yard to "make kids interested in playing over there.''

About twice a week, she added, a man would drop off two young boys at Schwartzmiller's residence.

Thornburg, who moved in a few months ago, said she warned her boys to stay away from Schwartzmiller after he bought them ice cream from a vendor.

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San Jose police urge anyone with information on the case to call their office at (408) 277-4102. Persons wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-STOP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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