No, it's not the Onion, it's just Florida...
Last week Ronald William Brown, a 58-year-old Christian puppeteer from Largo, Florida who warned about the evils of pornography on his long-running children's television show, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for possessing child pornography.
As far as I'm concerned, there's basically nothing more repugnant and vile than the pornographic exploitation of children. Nothing, that is, except perhaps for the other crime Brown is alleged to have committed: conspiring to kidnap, murder, and eat a child from his local church.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Brown was a soft-spoken, socially awkward man who lived alone in a local mobile home park. Although Brown was reluctant to engage in conversations with adults, he readily socialized with the park's many children, often serving pizza to neighborhood teens and then driving them to worship services at Gulf Coast Church.
But there was another side to Brown, according to a 29-page criminal complaint filed July 20 in federal court in Tampa: The man who, as he was feeding pizza to teenagers, nursed fantasies of murdering and eating them. The one who acted out Bible stories with puppets at his church, while musing online about carving and cooking the body parts of a young parishioner for Easter.
"I imagine him wiggling and then going still," Brown told an associate in an Internet chat session, describing his plot to kill and cannibalize a boy at Gulf Coast Church, according to the criminal complaint.
Brown and Arnett reportedly discussed killing -- or "snuffing," as they called it -- children as young as two. In one of the pair's many chat conversations, Arnett shared a photograph with Brown of a 3-year-old girl being strangled. Brown excitedly replied that "That's how I would enjoy doing" the child from his church.
When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security searched Brown's home as part of an international child pornography crackdown, they found images of children being bound and gagged, a blowup doll dressed in children's clothing, a missing child flier, boys' underwear, and photographs of dead kids. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the evidence was grotesque "even by the jaded standards of child abuse investigators."
Arnett allegedly claimed to have cannibalized a child and described for Brown "what different human body parts tasted like, roasted or cooked in a skillet." Brown told investigators that Arnett traveled to Florida to try and meet with him, but he didn't respond to the request because he wasn't interested in actually murdering, dismembering, and cannibalizing children, only in fantasizing about it.
Charges of conspiring to kidnap a child were dropped -- perhaps because Brown never actually met with Arnett -- but he will still have to register as a sex offender and submit to regular probation reviews after serving his sentence.
Watch Brown and a puppet tell children about the dangers of pornography on the long-running Christian Television Network show Joy Junction: