SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) During a two-day sweep resulting from a long, in-depth investigation by police officers in Surfside Beach that began last year, four individuals were arrested for sexually exploiting children.
Surfside Beach Police Chief Mike Frederick said 58-year-old Tim Yaccarino of Myrtle Beach was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, lewd act upon a child, conspiracy to commit lewd act upon a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and harboring a runaway. Tim Yaccarino appeared before a municipal court judge Friday, and was given a $222,000 bond.
Pam Yaccarino, 42, also of Surfside Beach was arrested Saturday afternoon and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, lewd act upon a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
22-year-old Jessica Grounds of Conway was arrested Saturday morning and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Amber Martin, 21, of Myrtle Beach was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, lewd act upon a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor following her arrest Saturday morning.
"That's scary if you have kids," said Larry Bowen, who lives on Bay Drive, the street at the heart of the investigation. "They're right next door, and you never know it."
Neighbors say they were suspicious of the Yaccarinos, but couldn't believe they'd be charged with such a shocking crime.
"I thought it might be drug activity," Bowen said. "I never would have that would actually happen."
Frederick said additional charges against these suspects are likely, and more arrests could be made as the investigation, which he described as 'complex and emotionally draining for everyone involved' continues.
"Anytime you're dealing with sexual images, these are very portable and easy to transmit to sites," Frederick said. "It's possible additional arrests could be forthcoming."
These arrests resulted from the investigation conducted by Surfside Beach officers, and search warrants for computer equipment and digital storage media revealed the evidence that lead to the suspects' charges.
At this time, police have not said what exactly was discovered during their search.
"We're still sifting through numerous interviews and investigative notes," Frederick added. "We'll also spend next week coordinating with outside agencies and the US Secret Service in an effort to ensure that we're being as thorough as a case of this import would dictate."
Frederick said the investigation and arrests resulted in a runaway juvenile being placed in the care of the Department of Social Services, and DSS assisted the SBPD in taking two other children into protective custody.
Booking records for J. Reuben Long Detention Center show that the first suspect, Tim Yaccarino, was arrested in 2011 from harboring a runaway and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The entire operation spanned months of investigation, and crescendoed in an extensive eight day push to acquire warrants and make arrests. Frederick said his officers never lost focus during the stressful time.
"We weren't being superheroes," he said. "It's just when you have a case with kids at risk, you don't just close that file at five o'clock."