DOVER — Police do not believe a Dover woman who recently committed suicide did so because she was the victim of “sextortion.”
But Lt. Brian Dolleman said the case against John Bryan Villegas, 23, of Kittery, Maine, had many facets.
“We had a bunch of different challenges here,” Dolleman said, adding: “We obviously had concerns about the safety of the victim.” Dolleman would not disclose details about the 24-year-old’s personal life, but said the woman “faced other stressors.”
“This is a tragedy,” Dolleman said of the death of the mother of a 4-year-old boy.
Police Chief Anthony Colarusso agreed.
“With regards to the cause and reasons for the victim’s death, we have little evidence to show that her death is related to the prior criminal case,” Colarusso said in an e-mail.
Villegas is serving 33 months in prison for breaking into the woman’s home and stealing her laptop to acquire private photos and personal information which he used to attempt to force her — via e-mails — to provide him with sexually explicit photographs and videos of her in 2012.
“She was not randomly selected — he was acquainted with her,” Dolleman said.
“This guy physically broke into her house and took her laptop,” Dolleman said, adding the theft occurred in April 2012, but the extortion didn’t begin until the woman started receiving e-mails in July 2012.
If she did not comply, Villegas threatened to “dox” her — or post the photos online and send them to her ex-husband, boyfriend, former employer and “throughout Dover,” according to federal court records.
Using an e-mail account he specifically set up to hide his identity, Villegas wrote back to her around July 11, 2012 which said: “ ‘I don’t mind getting rid of these ... Not free though ... I want to see more of you ...’ “ according to court records.
“As proof, he described, in detail, various sexually explicit photographs of her and sent several sample photographs, namely, the private photographs of a sexual nature that were stored on Jane Doe’s stolen laptop computer,” according to court records.
A few days later, the woman responded to the e-mail.
“I just don’t want these photos getting out. I don’t want my info being leaked or anything please I have a family and I can’t risk my sons [sic] safety. Please don’t,’” according to court records.
Soon afterward, Dolleman said the woman contacted police about the matter.
Dolleman said the Secret Service, which routinely investigates cybercrimes, had the expertise and the manpower to prove the e-mails threatening to extort the woman came from Villegas. As the crime occurred across state lines, he added it became a federal matter.
Because Villegas was enlisted in the U.S. Navy, the Secret Service also partnered with members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Dolleman said this allowed police to focus on the local aspects of the case — including investigating the burglary and the safety of the woman and her family.
Villegas pleaded guilty to the cyberstalking charge in U.S. District Court in Concord last Sept. 18. He then pleaded guilty to the burglary charge in Strafford County Superior Court Jan. 9.
As part of a plea bargain, Villegas was sentenced March 13 to serve 33 months in prison beginning the following month. He was also prohibited from contacting the woman or her son and “barred from the use of the internet and all media devises with interactive computer services” without prior approval of his probation officer, according to court records.
The maximum penalty for cyberstalking is up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a supervised release period of three years.