Arrested IT employee's office linked to sexual exploitation of children
The search warrant that led to the arrest of a former UNC employee was filed to investigate activity on his computer that could implicate him and his wife in the sexual exploitation of children.
Campus police arrested Charles Hitlin, then a manager in the information technology department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, on Nov. 8 when a 9 mm loaded pistol was discovered in his campus office. A Gerber knife was also seized, the warrant states.
Campus police discovered the gun during a multi-departmental investigation of computer crimes. The warrant obtained to search Hitlin’s office details suspected involvement, conducted from his computer between Oct. 24 and Nov. 5, in sexual relationships with individuals as young as 12 years old.
The warrant states that Detective Mike Deaton of the Morrisville Police Department had several undercover interactions with an individual or individuals using the username “amyinnc” on a chat room known as chat.motherless.com.
The IP address of Hitlin’s computer in Rosenau Hall was identified in the chat rooms, which are used for sharing child pornography.
Sgt. Beatus Swai of UNC police traced the IP address of the individual in the chat rooms to Rosenau Hall. The IP address was also associated with Hitlin’s Media Access Control address, a unique identifier issued by the manufacturer, the warrant states.
The individual in the chat room, who gave the impression of being female, alluded to sexual acts and intercourse with minors.
She chatted that she liked to have sexual relations with 10 or more individuals at a time, including “neighbors and coworkers,” according to the warrant. The individual chatted that her husband often watched the interactions.
In the course of various chats, the individual said she worked at UNC as a graduate student counselor, and her husband as an IT manager.
Amy Hitlin, Charles Hitlin’s wife, is a senior assistant director of University Career Services for the School of Public Health, and holds an office in Rosenau Hall as well as in Hanes Hall.
Neither Amy Hitlin nor Charles Hitlin responded to multiple phone calls Sunday.
As of Nov. 8, police were seeking a search warrant for Amy Hitlin’s office at 228 Hanes Hall, the warrant states. UNC Department of Public Safety spokesman Randy Young said Thursday that multiple warrants had been issued in the computer crimes investigation.
The search warrant states Swai is authorized to investigate crimes involving N.C. statutes of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second degree sexual exploitation and first degree statutory rape.
An iPhone, iPad, four computers, one flash drive and other devices were seized from Charles Hitlin’s office.
Charged with felony possession of a gun on school grounds, he was released Nov. 8 on $10,000 secured bond, and will appear in Orange County court on Jan. 11.
Contact the desk editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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