Ronald Brown, a Largo, Florida puppeteer, was arrested on Friday after federal agents accused him of plotting to kidnap, kill, and eat a child, according to press reports. Brown, 57, was booked into Pinellas County Jail on charges of conspiring to kidnap a child and possession of child pornography. He has since been denied bail bond at an initial hearing. It is not clear whether Brown has retained a private criminal defense attorney.
Before his arrest, Brown was primarily known as a puppeteer. His one-man company’s website states that he has performed at shopping malls, resorts, and even for the Tampa Bay Rays. His past and current clients include the Pinellas County School District, the Christian Television Network, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, and the city of Largo. Brown is also a member of Gulf Coast Church and was known in his neighborhood for putting on pizza nights for children. His neighbors describe him as ‘nice,’ ‘a gentlemen,’ and ‘considerate of others,’ and he had no criminal record before his arrest, press sources indicate.
Brown, however, is now accused of fantasizing about cooking and eating the small children who loved his puppet shows. Press reports indicate that Brown was caught in an international investigation targeting owners and creators of child pornography. The sting has thus far yielded 40 arrests in six different countries.
The investigation into Brown’s case centered on transcripts of conversations that he allegedly had online. The transcripts, some of which were listed in the 29-page criminal complaint, describe cooking and eating a toddler who went to Gulf Coast Church, among other things. “I imagine him wiggling and then going still,” Brown purportedly typed.
Brown is accused of conspiring with a Kansas resident named Michael Arnett to kidnap and eat the boy, whose identity was not revealed in public reports. Arnett, who was arrested in May for producing and distributing child pornography, is under investigation for claims he made to Brown regarding previously eating a child, sources indicate. Arnett apparently went as far as traveling down to Florida to meet with Brown. Brown, however, told investigators that he had not met with Arnett because he never meant to actually harm the child, saying that he had only imagined it.
During the course of the investigation, agents uncovered pages and pages of transcripts where Brown purportedly discussed harming children. In one, a party federal agents say is Brown described how scantily clothed children playing in the summer heat made his mouth water; in another, two parties believed to be Brown and Arnett discuss a picture of a female toddler being choked. Brown allegedly commented that “that’s how I would enjoy doing” the little boy from his church in.
After executing a search warrant on Brown’s home, agents allegedly discovered child pornography involving bound and gagged kids. Others featured dead children, sources indicate. Investigators do not believe that Brown took any of the images himself or actually harmed any children, and no potential victims have come forward.