- Mark Rein
The Wizard of MO
Welcome to Crime Raven; true crimes, real-life stories from law enforcement, and issues crime fighters face. This blog highlights crimes researched by retired Detective Sergeant Mark Rein using publicly available information, court records, and personal recollections. Content may be graphic, disturbing, or violent. Listener discretion is advised. Suspects are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
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Wizard drove his van down the neighborhood street. It was mid-afternoon on a typical Midwestern November day breezy, but the winter cold had not yet set in. He found a place to park on the side of the road where the trees might obscure any nosy neighbors. He was a little early, so he settled back into his seat to wait.
For Wizard, this isn't the first day of the expedition. Far from it. He's been a busy guy for the last few days, patiently watching, waiting. He had to be cautious too close, and someone might take notice of him amongst the surge of cars jockeying for position, trying to make their pickup as fast as possible and get the hell out of there.
Between the scrum of private vehicles and buses, Wizard thought he would never pick out the target. Then, success. He saw her. He even got a vehicle number. Wizard's caution paid off. He was pretty sure he had gotten away clean. No one taking notice of the interloper in the crowd.
From there, tracking was easier. The vehicle was distinct, clearly marked, so all he needed to do was monitor the outbound course. By day three, he knew the route and termination point. By day four, he set up down the street and watched.
That's how Wizard came to be sitting in position on that fine November afternoon, his van partially obscured from view by prying eyes by a tree in bushes bordering the sidewalk in the working-class neighborhood, a suburb of West St. Louis.
Wizard congratulated himself on a job well done. Almost done. He checked his watch. Time was short. Wizard reminded himself that this wasn't done. It was just the beginning, and the riskiest part still lay ahead.
Nevertheless, he almost vibrated with excitement as he slowly scanned from side to side and toward the rear with the mirrors. He saw nothing. The mission was a go.
Wizard heard the roaring engine before he saw it. A few seconds later, the big yellow bus emerged from between two houses. As it approached the corner, the familiar ringing of brakes, hydraulic hiss, and the powerful engine slowed to idle.
The door opened, and the girl, his girl, stepped down onto the sidewalk. Wizard held his breath, then exhaled raggedly past the spike of adrenaline. The bus doors, accordion closed, engine powered up, diesel smoke puffing out the rear, and then it was gone. And she was alone on the corner.
Wizard stole a glance. Left, right rear, still no one around. The girl was half a block away, walking towards him, swinging a little bag, not paying attention to anything.
He was caught in her spell as she approached. Time slowed down. He guessed she was eight or nine, maybe four, six. She was thin, with a pale complexion. Her shoulder-length, wavy brown hair blew across her face in the breeze as she carelessly strolled up the block. Wizard stepped out of the van and crept around to the rear. He scanned the neighborhood again, trying to look nonchalant, but his heart was hammering in his chest.
As the girl walked between his car and the bushes, Wizard stepped out, blocking the narrow sidewalk. He said, "oh, hello," as if surprised by her sudden appearance. The girl looked up at him, eyes wide with genuine surprise.
Wizard always imagined this moment romantically. Like some movie, he would sweep her up and off. They would go. Instead, he stammered out a half-baked ruse that neither one of them could believe. " Your parents sent me to pick you up."
The girl started backing away, shaking her head part in fear, part in disbelief, "no"! Wizard lunged forward as she took her second backward step simultaneously, grabbing her by one arm and opening the passenger side door.
The girl cried "no!" more forcefully, trying to pull away. Wizard pushed her in, bending her over, pinning her upper body to the seat. He had once seen a bunny rabbit caught in a snare. Eyes wild, desperate, frantic. This is how the girl looked. She began to whimper, her cries partially muffled in the seat. "No, I need to go home. I need my mommy."
He warned her to be quiet, or he would hurt her. Wizard promised the girl that we would take her home to her mommy if she would just calm down. He said, I'm really a police officer, and I've been sent to take you. As he spoke, he put handcuffs on her wrist, ratcheting them down as tight as they would go. The girls' crying became sobs. She screamed, "ow!"
The unyielding metal restraints binding into the soft skin of her wrists.
Wizard didn't bother with appearances as he rushed around, jumped in the driver's side. The girl was twisting in the seat to herself. Wizard shoved her back down, pinning her with his hand as he drove out of the neighborhood. He began talking to the girl, telling her not to be afraid, that he wasn't going to hurt her.
She was inconsolable. Through her sobs. The girl expressed the fervent wish of that bunny rabbit to be set free.
The drive took less than 15 minutes, which seemed like an eternity. Wizard knew better than to draw attention by driving as fast as his mind was racing. Once he cleared the neighborhood, he maneuvered in traffic. Being careful did not allow anyone a good view of his cargo.
He hit the highway, crossed the river, and into St. Charles County, where the houses were more spread out. Wizard's shitty little trailer wasn't in the wilderness by any means, but it was set off on his own with no close neighbors to nose around.
On that day, as it came into view, it looked as welcoming as a fortress to Wizard. He was safe, and he had his girl. As he pulled up to the shack, she continued to cry. It didn't matter. She was his now. He shifted in the park, turned to her, and disposed of all pretense.
"Stop crying." He snapped. "You will do as you're told. You're mine until I say you're not." He leaned over, almost snarling. "If you do not do what I say, I will hurt you, and then I'll go to your house and I'll hurt your mommy." He stared at the girl, who was trying to control her crying. She said, "I just want to go home."
" I don't give a shit what you want, but when I'm done with you, I'll let you go. If you're a good girl." with that Wizard, pulled her out, up the steps, and up into the trailer from the outside. An optimistic observer might have described Wizard's home as a rustic hovel. It didn't get better on the inside, where Dim Light was a blessing. Sparsely furnished, yet cluttered, unkept, and grimy. The girl barely had time to register her new surroundings as Wizard pulled her down the long narrow hallway, the master bedroom, if you could call it, that was lit by a single naked bulb protruding from the ceiling outlet in the center of the room. Thick wool blankets blocked out any trace of late afternoon. There was a small mattress on an institution-gray metal frame along the opposite wall. A shabby wood dresser that once had been painted white completed the bedroom set.
Wizard closed the door, turned her roughly, and released one handcuff. "Strip." The girl looked up at him, scared, confused. "What?" He slapped her across the face hard enough that she dropped to her knees. "Take. All. Your. Clothes. Off." The girl started sobbing once again, but she slowly complied.
Wizard watched her drinking in every detail. He was most excited by the underwear. The little girl's, white Barbie print panties with pink and yellow trim. Perfection.
When the girl was naked. Wizard caressed her body, pushing her backward down onto the bed. He didn't completely lose control of himself. He remembered to handcuff one hand to the metal bar.
Wizard kept her for eight glorious days doing whatever came to mind, and he had a lot on his mind. Initially, it was pretty tame, but when the girl stopped reacting, got that blank stare like they do, he had to spice it up. Another time when he was out taking a break, she tried to yell for help. Wizard came in and punished her by taping her mouth shut.
That gave him some ideas. He enjoyed punishing her. After a while, she became difficult to rouse, just laying there helpless. So Wizard had to up the ante. At first, showing her the knives flashing in front of her face was enough to get a reaction.
When that threat wore off, he began cutting. Not too much. He didn't wanna lose her. Not yet. The sight of blood brought the girl back to the moment. That was where Wizard wanted her. He didn't spend all that time preparing, risking everything to do a zombie.
Wizard fed on her fear, reveled in the power and control. It recharged him like no drug ever could. He felt like he could go forever with the girl chain to his bed. But after a week, the searchers were still the top story on the evening news. They were looking. Hard. Wizard started feeling the pressure. The longer he kept the girl, the higher the risk. He'd had his fun.
He started to think about what to do with her. He didn't really want to be responsible for her death, so he took her out and tied her to a tree, helpless, her arms pinned behind her with the cuffs cranked down hard.
His rational self didn't want her to be found. In the back of his mind, he knew he should have buried her. But he didn't like the waste. He wanted recognition. Their week together had been a work of art, and he wanted his masterpiece to live on in the minds of even those who found her.
He wanted to drive by there in the future and think of her like that. Chained, hopeless, helpless to a tree. Who knows? They might never find her, and that tree would become a sacred monument just for him. The Wizard.
Earl Webster Cox was born and grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis. He enlisted in the US Air Force in 1975 and trained as a computer systems operator stationed in Germany at Rhine Main Air Force Base. During his off hours, he babysat. In 1979, they arrested him for molesting four of those kids whose ages ranged between seven and 11.
Convicted in a court marshal, Cox was sentenced to eight years at Fort Leavenworth Prison. When interviewed by a psychiatrist about victimizing little girls, Cox blamed his behavior on the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his stepfather.
In 1984, having served only five years. Cox was released from prison and ejected from the military with a dishonorable discharge and the rank of E one.
Cox moved back to the St. Louis area. His parents and sister had never left that area, and he moved into a trailer near Overland, a township in their vicinity.
In 1989, the Overland Police arrested Cox for the sexual abuse of two seven-year-old girls. He'd been watching the children and had molested them at a movie theater and at a park. He was also suspected of fondling another child. Instead of prosecuting Cox for these new crimes, his parole was violated, and he was sent back to Fort Leavenworth Prison.
In 2003, Cox was the subject of a federal enticement investigation using the screen name, young stuff, Cox started messaging a 14-year-old girl named Brenda, ultimately telling her he wanted to have sex with her, including details like his desire to spank her. When Brenda wasn't scared away, Cox sent her a bus ticket to leave her home from the East coast and meet him in Colorado. He told her she was going to be his sex slave and explicitly instructed her what to wear when she got off the bus. A short skirt, a red tube top, no bra and no panties. Brenda stepped off the bus in Colorado right on schedule.
Cox greeted her but said, " you don't look 14." That's because she wasn't. At that point, the arrest team moved in and took Cox into custody. During the follow-up investigation, they raided Cox's home and seized his computer.
The FBI agents working on Cox's case discovered that he was an administrator in an online child pornography ring called the Shadowz Brotherhood. The group ran chat and webpages with servers in numerous countries using computer expertise he'd gained in the Air Force.
They referred to Cox as the Wizard. He oversaw submissions to board groups with names like Panty Raiders and Lolita Lovers. Shadowz Brotherhood ran on a merit system. The more child pornography contributed, the greater access a member would have to the site. Members would submit pictures and videos containing child pornography. Much of it shared from outside internet sources, but the most venerated members were producing new material. All the members were collectors, but there were also many sadistic abusers.
The FBI agents tallied up what they found. Cox's computer contained 45,000 stored child porn photos and videos. Cox was in communication with others in the group who were planning a get-together, what they referred to as a teddy bear picnic at a farm in rural Missouri.
The first round of Shadowz Brotherhood arrests included 100 people jailed in 11 countries. During the investigation, Cox tried to play the situation off as a misunderstanding. He said he knew that Brenda was a federal agent and was using the opportunity to expose the Shadowz Brotherhood to the FBI. Later, when speaking to a psychologist, he claimed he was only involved in the group because it was like group therapy.
For the attempt to entice a minor, Cox was sentenced to 10 years in prison with three years of probation. He was sent to the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.
As his 2011 release date approached, federal prosecutors had Cox certified as a sexually dangerous person. Evaluatio