A 39-year-old Sherwood man appeared in the city’s district court via video conferencing Monday morning in an attempt to reduce his bond following his arrest in which he was charged with video voyeurism of his three teenage stepdaughters.
Richard Wells, 401 Indian Bay, Sherwood, was arrested on June 14 on two counts of video voyeurism (class D felony) and three counts of computer exploitation of a child (class C felony).
Wells’ bond originally had been set at $250,000, but after Monday’s hearing before Sherwood District Judge Butch Hale, the amount was reduced to $50,000.
According to the arrest report, his arrest took place at the Little Rock Air Force Base, where he is enlisted as a U.S. airman.
According to the arrest report, on April 27, Sherwood officer Jason Hopkins, a school resource officer at Sylvan Hills High School, contacted the department’s criminal investigation division with information regarding three juvenile females, who disclosed allegations that Wells was secretly recording their activities with wireless video cameras in their home.
Sherwood Detective Heather Meadows responded to the middle school and interviewed a 13-year-old female. Detective Frank Spence went to the high school and interviewed two other girls, ages 15 and 17.
“The girls, all sisters, related incidents in which they were the only ones at their home and Richard Wells, their (stepfather) would confront them with specific information about various activities in which they had engaged in when no adult was present,” according to the report.
One of the girls told officers that she found a device in the bathroom of the home, which she believed to be a wireless camera. The device was mounted in the housing as an air freshener. A short time later, it disappeared.
“A short time later, (one of the girls) told of a time she was asleep in her room and when she awakened to what she believed was a camera flash and she believed she observed Richard walking away from the room,” according to the arrest report.
The three girls told police that Wells was very protective of his computer and other digital devices, denying them access to the items. They were suspicious he might have saved information on them relating to his monitoring the activities in all rooms of the house.
After police interviewed the three juveniles, police interviewed Wells, who denied any knowing of recording devices or wireless cameras.
Wells originally consented to allow police investigators to search his home and digital devices, including his computer.
“However, when he learned an investigator with equipment and expertise in recovering digital evidence would be conducting the examination, he withdrew his consent,” according to the report.
On April 30, police were informed that items from the Wells home were being discarded in the trash in an apparent attempt to sanitize of possible evidence related to the allegations .
Officers contacted the city’s public works department and learned that trash pickup in the area of Indian Bay Drive takes place on Fridays.
On the following Friday, city police and detectives went to Wells’ home and retrieved the trash from the bin that was located at curbside for regular collection.
During their search, police found two hard drives, a disc containing a wireless camera receiver, an empty digital external hard drive, a fan used to cool electronic components, female underwear, various adult sex aids, cordage and restraint apparatuses, according to the report.
On May 11, police obtained a search warrant for 401 Indian Bay and served it on May 29. During the search, detectives seized a pinhole camera, multiple flash drives, a wireless remote receiver and other computer equipment.
Upon inspection of the ceilings in the bedroom occupied by the 13-year-old female, along the north wall of the residence, and the bedroom in the garage area for the 16 year old, police observed holes in the ceiling directly above the beds in each room.
In a subsequent interview with city police and Air Force special investigations officers, following an interview which lasted about one hour, Wells stood up and said, “I’m done,” according to the police report.
He then told police he installed the wireless cameras in the home of the girls in order to capture one of them engaged in sexual conduct with her boyfriend.
According to Wells, he first installed a camera to record the living room area and did not inform his wife, Ramona, who is the mother of the girls.
“Mr. Wells told me he was successful in recording (one of the girls) engaged in sex acts, but did not reveal the situation to Ramona,” according to a statement signed by Detective Spence. “He said he decided to keep the matter to himself in order to protect Ramona from the knowledge her children were having sex.”
Wells told police he decided to install additional cameras.
Wells said after he viewed one of the videos he became somewhat intrigued with the process and said the voyeuristic aspect of secretly watching sex acts aroused him although viewing the girls themselves did not. He also told police he used the videos as material for masturbation on several occasions.
Police later confirmed with Wells’ wife and two of the girls that camera placements were found in walls decorated with caricatures of the Disney-animated character Tinkerbell.