Six people were indicted by an Effingham County grand jury Monday in four cases of crimes against children.
Three people, including a husband and a wife, were indicted on charges of possessing pornographic videos of children. One man was charged by the grand jury for soliciting to have sex with a 5-year-old child, and two people were indicted in a severe beating of a 2-year-old.
Husband and wife Michael Shepard, 38, and Rebekah Shepard, 33, were each indicted on six counts of sexual exploitation of children. The couple was arrested in July after the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force determined child pornography was being downloaded and shared from a computer in the Shepards’ Rincon home.
According to the indictment in Effingham County Superior Court, Michael and Rebekah Shepard were in possession of multiple video files depicting children in sexually-explicit conduct. The children range in age from 8 to 12, investigators believe.
In a separate case, Edward William Holmes, 53, of Savannah was indicted on charges he possessed and distributed videos of children engaged in sexual activity.
The indictment outlined the explicit acts in the videos involving children, perhaps as young as 5. Holmes was indicted on five counts of sexual exploitation of children.
Holmes was arrested in Virginia in June after fleeing Effingham County. An IP address being used to download and share images of child pornography was traced to an extended-stay hotel where Holmes was staying, and investigators found “several” images on his laptop computer.
Also indicted by the grand jury was a Savannah man accused of soliciting to have sex with a woman and her 5-year-old daughter.
George Matthew “Matt” Vickery, 31, was indicted on three counts of computer pornography and child exploitation, one count of criminal attempt to commit child molestation and one count of criminal attempt to commit enticing a child for indecent purposes.
According to the ECSO, Vickery used a social media site to contact a woman he knew through mutual friends. Investigators said Vickery’s comments soon turned to graphic descriptions of sexual acts he wanted to perform on the woman’s 5-year-old daughter.
Vickery and the woman made arrangements to meet at Jaycee Veterans Memorial Park in Rincon. When he arrived, ECSO investigators arrested him.
The grand jury added additional counts for a Rincon man indicted in September on charges of brutally beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter in August.
Robert Christopher Edwards, 24, now faces 10 counts — aggravated battery, four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of cruelty to children and obstruction of an officer. All are felonies.
Edwards beat the child, “seriously disfiguring her body” and “causing extensive bruising and swelling,” according to the September indictment. The indictment accuses Edwards of hitting the child “multiple times in her face and head,” choking her and burning her with an object “believed to be a cigarette lighter.”
One additional count of aggravated assault and one of cruelty to children were added Monday. According to those counts, Edwards also used a “long, linear weapon” to beat the 2-year-old.
The child’s mother, Sabrina Dawn Saunders, 21, was indicted on charges of cruelty to children, making false statements and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Prior to Saunders’ daughter being beaten by Edwards, the indictment states, she suffered a head injury in an all-terrain vehicle accident. However, Saunders did not take the child for medical treatment and later lied to ECSO Investigator David Ehsanipoor that she had, according to the indictment.