EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - In August, Orlando Webber from Mississippi was sentenced to 46 months in prison for stalking Evansville teens on social media. However, government officials say Webber would not have been brought to justice if it wasn’t for three brave women and a local task force officer.
“Like most of these cases, they can’t be solved without the courage of civilians, of victims, of people,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler.
The four individuals honored on Monday helped put Orlando Webber behind bars this fall.
Webber had been stalking more than 30 underage girls from Evansville on social media, sending them messages explicit in nature.
Haley Tepool and Maddie Burger, now adults, experienced it themselves.
“It was definitely a shock being so young and seeing some of the things that we saw and hearing some of the words we heard,” said Tepool.
“At first we thought it was a joke and somebody was messing with us and as it continued for so long we started to realize it was serious,” said Burger.
Each played a key role in the prosecution. Tepool delivered a powerful impact statement before sentencing. Burger helped task force officer Brian Brown, who was also honored, locate Webber’s social media accounts.
Stephanie Higgins accepted an award on behalf of her daughter Anna Higgins, who originally reached out to law enforcement regarding Webber.
The message on Monday was to speak up even when it may seem uncomfortable.
“I hope that they are inspired to speak up," said Burger. “I know a lot of people feel like, if they speak up, nothing might come of it.”
“Definitely speak up. Don’t be afraid to tell a peer, tell an adult, tell a friend, tell a police officer," said Tepool. “They are definitely here to help you, and they don’t ever want you going through stuff like we’ve been through."
Minkler mentioned that the hardest part of this case was the fact that Webber would delete his accounts and make new ones. It made him hard to find, and they would not have found him without the help of those young women and officer Brown.