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Martinsburg man arrested for sexually explicit texts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Martinsburg man thought he was going to meet an 11-year-old girl with whom he had been trading sexually explicit text messages but instead met with State Police, authorities said.

Wade Eugene Decker, 25, of Berkeley Station Road, was arrested Tuesday about 100 yards from Lambert Park Pool in Martinsburg.

The investigation began about two weeks ago when Sgt. D.E. Boober, a Crimes Against Children officer at the Martinsburg detachment, received a call from Detective Sal Zanghi of New Bern, N.C.

Zanghi told Boober Decker solicited sex via text message from an 11-year-old Berkeley County girl visiting family in New Bern. The girl's aunt brought her phone to Zanghi and told him that an adult man had texted he wanted to "mess around" even though he knew her age, according to a criminal complaint.

Zanghi told Boober he pretended to be the little girl and continued to text Decker. He said  it was "very obvious" from those conversations Decker wanted to have sex with the girl.

Decker asked specific questions like "if we had sex would we use condoms or go without" and "if we had sex would u keep it between us and not tell anyone," according to the complaint.

Zanghi said Decker had repeatedly asked for nude pictures and e-mailed a photo of his genitals.

Troopers in Martinsburg are familiar with Decker and his older brother, Joshua Decker, a convicted sex offender, according to the complaint. Joshua Decker served 90 days in prison in 2004 after he was convicted of third-degree sexual assault on a teenaged family friend, according to the State Police Sex Offender Registry.

On Monday, investigators agreed to see if Decker would meet with the girl somewhere in Berkeley County. Boober sent Decker a photo of a fully clothed adult woman from the neck down. He responded with a picture of his face, asking "what u think," the complaint said.

Decker is charged with solicitation of a minor and display of obscene matter to a minor, use of obscene matter to seduce or entice a minor and attempted use of a minor to produce obscene matter. He is being held at Eastern Regional Jail on $175,000 bond.

"This is one that turned out the way we would rather see them," said Sgt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesman. "The other way it could have turned out would have been he actually met the girl and assaulted her. This was the best case scenario for us and the girl."

The arrest came just one day after State Police went to the state Capitol to make the case for more troopers for the Crimes Against Children Unit.

Formed in late 2009 it is made up of 13 troopers, not counting one who joined a few weeks ago. It has made more than 100 felony arrests this year and has conducted more than 700 interviews, said State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous.

The unit has a 100 percent conviction rate, he said.

State Police Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers and other agency leaders met with legislative committees Monday and Tuesday to talk about additional funding to recruit, hire, and train an additional 275 troopers.

Those troopers wouldn't all be assigned to the Crimes Against Children Unit, but Smithers told legislators Monday it is grossly understaffed and needed a "shot in the arm."

"Thirteen troopers performing this kind of activity and doing what they do, that's a very small number," Baylous said.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.


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