Alleged child predator charged after being confronted by online activist group outside Giant Eagle

CRANBERRY Pa. — An activist group that targets suspected child predators sought out a Freedom man and confronted him in the parking lot of a Giant Eagle in Cranberry.

The group, known as Predator Poachers, called police and captured the interaction on camera.

The group claimed the man sent inappropriate images to a 13-year-old girl in Texas.

Police said the man being questioned by officers in the video is John Lefler, 46.

“I don’t think you should be doing that with any woman, doesn’t matter what your age is, just don’t be doing that,” said Charles Steinman, who was visiting from Wichita Falls, Tx.

Lefler is now facing charges after detectives said a search of his cell phone uncovered hundreds of images of children engaging in or simulating sexual acts.

“It makes me sick, makes me really sick,” said MaryAnne Dinardo of Wexford.

Police said Lefler got the child pornography through an international messaging service called Telegram and downloaded nearly 300 images and close to 145 videos.

“One of these images or videos is too many. The number was significant,” said Lt. Chuck Mascellino with the Cranberry Township Police Department.

Some of the videos reportedly showed violent sexual acts with children younger than 10. Investigators in the criminal complaint said Lefler admitted that some of the children were just five years old.

“That goes beyond the pale,” Mascellino said. “That guy deserves whatever the punishment that he’s going to get. He certainly deserves the shame of the community. Hopefully, that’ll help him turn his life around and become a better person.”

Channel 11′s Antoinette DelBel knocked on Lefler’s door for a comment but he didn’t answer.

While the so-called Predator Poachers group is known to chase down people suspected of preying on kids, Lt. Mascellino said those cases are better left in the hands of police.

“If anybody has any suspicions or evidence of these types of crimes, we encourage them to contact law enforcement,” he said. “Rather than engaging these suspects, we would encourage them to contact their local law enforcement, so that an investigation can be conducted and ensure that we have a just outcome.”

Police are also encouraging parents to monitor their kids’ social media, so they don’t fall victim to these crimes.

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