MILFORD —A Milford man accused of downloading dozens of images depicting the sexual abuse of children faces multiple felony charges following an arrest by federal agents.

File photo of the Beaver County Public Safety Building where the jail is located in Beaver City, Utah, Oct. 19, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Kali Holyoak, St. George News

On Oct. 16, 44-year-old John Frank Mcray was arrested by federal agents as he was leaving his work near Heritage Park Drive shortly after 7 a.m. in Milford. He faces multiple charges, including five second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as misdemeanor drug and paraphernalia charges. 

The arrest stems from a multiagency investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the  Internet Crimes Against Children task force that began in June. The first of several tips came into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s cyber tip line reporting that child sexual abuse material had been uploaded to a device. 

In all, more than 80 files depicting the sexual abuse of children were uploaded to a device that  investigators would later learn belonged to Mcray. While speaking to agents, the suspect said he had joined a chat thread using a messaging app that uses the internet to send messages, images and video.

He went on to explain that initially, he believed that the message thread was a private chat with a female. It was only after he joined that he learned it was “some sort of group chat,” according to the report. 

It was in this group message thread, Mcray said, that other users were sharing pornographic images, which he said were “automatically being downloaded to his phone.”

Once he discovered the illicit files on his phone, he left the group chat and deleted the images. Later, he told officers, he discovered that the images had been uploaded to a cloud account and he deleted those files as well.

Through researching the messaging application that the defendant was using, investigators determined that in order to download the images to a cell phone, or upload an image to a cloud account, the subscriber would have to select the image to do so.

2022 Stock image of a Beaver County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Mcray did not deny that he had the images on his phone prior to discovering that they were there. According to the affidavit, the first report was received by a cyber tip on June 8 involving two files, followed by another report filed the following day that contained 24 files.

Two more files were reported on June 11, while the final report was received on Oct. 14 involving more than 50 files. Upon further questioning, the suspect admitted that the email account and cell phone number in question belonged to him.

During a search of the suspect’s residence in Milford, agents allegedly recovered suspected methamphetamine and paraphernalia. Following the search, Mcray was arrested and booked into the Beaver County Jail. 

The charges were filed in 5th District Court in Beaver County on Friday and a no-bail hold was signed by District Judge Matthew L. Bell. 

The defendant made an initial appearance in 5th District Court in Beaver City on Monday and is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 13 for a bail review hearing. He remains in custody without bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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