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South Carolina Man Arrested, 13-Year-Old Girl Rescued, in Collaborative Dark Web Investigation

COOKEVILLE – A South Carolina man has been arrested and a 13-year-old Cookeville girl has been kept from sexual exploitation following an investigation led by special agents assigned to TBI’s Cybercrime & Digital Evidence Unit.

After receiving information from Homeland Security Investigations on Monday, TBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Squad began investigating a troubling advertisement on the dark web, depicting a 13-year-old girl being solicited for sexual activity. The advertisement garnered the attention of a South Carolina man, who was engaged in an inappropriate conversation with the girl. Agents located the girl and her family in Cookeville, took over the chat, posed as the girl, and ultimately arranged for the man, identified as David Vannelli (DOB 8-28-83), to travel from his home in Anderson, SC to Cookeville on Tuesday night.

Once he arrived, agents, assisted by HSI, the FBI, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, and the Cookeville Police Department arrested Vannelli and charged him with one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and one count of Solicitation of Aggravated Statutory Rape. Authorities subsequently booked him into the Putnam County Jail, where, at the time of this release, he was being held on $53,000 bond.

David Vannelli

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