On Your Side Investigation: How is a convicted child killer on A - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

On Your Side Investigation: How is a convicted child killer on Alabama's death row using Facebook?

(Family members of murder victim Latonya Sager. (Source: WBRC) (Family members of murder victim Latonya Sager. (Source: WBRC)

When the man who raped and murdered Latonya Sager was convicted and sentenced to die, her family members felt like justice had been served.

Sager, 10, was found strangled to death in a relative's Norwood home in 1999. Willie Earl Scott, a family friend, was quickly arrested and charged with the horrific crime. DNA evidence found on the victim's body tied Scott to the crime.

He was simultaneously convicted of raping another victim the same night he killed Sager.

"She was bubbly, pretty, a sweet little girl," said Sager's aunt, Annetta Williams. "He was a menace to society and it's been a nightmare," she said. 

Williams and other family members of Latonya Sager reached out to WBRC after they discovered her killer on Facebook. 

"It makes me feel like it's happening all over again," said Sager's grandmother, Ann Lewis. "It's just hard and they're just letting him get away with murder again."  

An On Your Side investigation found multiple active Facebook accounts tied to Willie Earl Scott and a digital footprint across other social media.

Williams said Sager's family members found out about the Facebook activity earlier this year and have been calling Holman Prison, trying to get it shut down.

"I was disgusted to see that he's able to have fun in prison while my niece lay in that grave," said Williams. 

She said since January, several family members have called Holman Prison to report the Facebook page, but after nothing appeared to be done, she reached out to WBRC. The victim's grandmother said she called in January.

"I called down to the prison and let them know what was going on and all they just said was they'll check into it," said Lewis. "I don't know what they've been doing because he's still doing what he wants to do." 

We called Alabama's Department of Corrections and a prison spokesman could not confirm the family's repeated calls to Holman Prison. The spokesman said the prison was first notified of Scott's social media activity March 28th when a family member called ADOC's central office in Montgomery, but we found activity on Scott's page as late as April 15th. 

"Prison officials confiscated a contraband cellphone from the inmate and DOC agents monitored the social media site for illegal activity as part of its investigation. Facebook closed the site on April 27 at DOC's request," the spokesman wrote in an email to WBRC. 

We found multiple active Facebook accounts that appear to be attached to Willie Earl Scott, one in his legal name and others using the alias "Willie Redd" and "Willie Earl Jackson." A simple Facebook search turned up a total of two accounts and three fan pages. We also found multiple postings of rap videos and songs, some that appear to show Scott with other inmates. One video had been shared over 800 times and had 4,000 views.

From there, we followed links to a YouTube channel in the name "Willie Redd" with over a dozen songs and videos uploaded in the last year, as well as full albums for sale on iTunes and Google Play. 

Williams said she was so angry after watching one of his videos, she sent him a message on Facebook and she said he messaged her back. 

"He told me, what you're doing is not going to solve your situation," she said. "Babygirl, that's what he called me, babygirl."

She followed up, asking how he was accessing the internet and making videos in prison and she said he didn't answer back. 

So how did a close custody death row inmate who's segregated from other prisoners get the phone in the first place? The ADOC spokesman said that investigation is ongoing, but in a 2016 interview with WBRC, an ADOC correctional officer said anyone, including officers, could smuggle in contraband. 

"It could be nurses, it could be the people working laundry, it could be the administration, the secretaries," he said. "Really anyone has a chance to get caught up in that stuff." 

WBRC has also reported on inmates at Holman Prison using the app Periscope to broadcast live video feeds from inside the prison. At the time, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn said he was disturbed by the report.

"To the extent we can get more boots on the ground, more officers on a post, we can begin to combat this issue,” Dunn said. “But until we do that, we're just basically holding a line, and as you can see by the stats, we're struggling to even hold that line.”

We asked ADOC what additional steps it has taken since that report to combat the problem of illegal cell phones. 

"The Department of Corrections conducts routine facility inspections and searches and is in the process of installing new body scanners to prevent contraband from coming into the facilities. Training and using canine units to detect illegal cellphones is another option the ADOC is considering. Commissioner Jeff Dunn and corrections directors from other states met with FCC officials in Washington DC in March to address the use of illegal cellphones in prisons and available technologies for rendering them ineffective. The ADOC has made it a top priority to eliminate the introduction and use of cellphones in Alabama prisons." 

The ADOC said in 2016, it seized more than 3,500 illegal cellphones and made over 70 contraband arrests.           

Two days after our call to ADOC about Willie Earl Scott, the Facebook account under his legal name was disabled, but at the time of this report, there are still several active pages. ADOC's spokesman said they've asked Facebook to take all of them down, but the pages are registered in another name and may have been activated by someone other than the inmate. 

The family of Latonya Sager just wants all of Scott's online activity shut down for good so they never have to see him again. 

"Make him stop, please. It's painful," said Lewis. "We've been through enough."

Copyright 2017 WBRC. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly