Randy Lee McCray of Isanti, who has been charged in Pine County with three felonies related to soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct, was exposed by MN Hunter Josh and his team, Predator Hunters USA – a vigilante team based out of Forest Lake whose mission is to expose sexual predators.
“I just want a safer world for the children of the present and future; my whole team has this passion,” said founder Josh of what inspired him and the team to begin doing this type of work about a month ago. Last names of team members are not being used due to safety precautions.
All of the busts conducted by Predator Hunters USA are streamed live on the team’s Facebook page. Following an exposure, Predator Hunters USA posts a photo of the predator with their first name and city of residence.
Although the team is actively exposing predators that are preying on underage girls and boys, Josh noted that the team does “not wish any type of harm on these predators, and we ask the public not to be harassing these predators or their families in any way.”
Thus far, about 27 predators have been exposed, according to Josh. The Facebook page has gained more than 20,000 followers and more than 18,000 likes since it began Oct. 7.
The Predator Hunters USA team consists of Josh, about nine administrators, and about 19 decoys at this time. “They are all wonderful volunteers who put in a lot of time and sacrifice,” Josh said. Most of the volunteers work full-time jobs along with volunteering for Predator Hunters USA.
Team administrators provide basic upkeep of the Facebook page, responding to messages and comments, as well as helping the decoys.
Administrators also send law enforcement all the evidence collected regarding a predator and their communications with the decoys.
Decoys set up fake profiles on dating apps in order to attract predators. However, they do not seek out anyone, start conversations, or initiate any type of sexual conversation or meeting, according to Josh.
Decoys and administrators receive training about the process that must be followed and how things have to be done in order not to jeopardize possible future arrests or prosecutions of the predators.
“Decoys make their age known and tell these predators they do not have to keep talking to them due to their age,” Josh said. “These predators are given many outs when it comes to continuing to talk and meet up with these underage decoys.”
Following an exposure, the team turns over the chat logs from the dating apps, as well as the Facebook live video taken at the time of exposure, according to administrator Laura. If any arrests are made due to exposures by Predator Hunters USA, the team posts the arrest and charges on the Facebook page.
The team did not want to disclose the dating apps that are being used, or additional information regarding exposures, because they do not want predators to catch on to how the team is conducting its work, according to Laura.
“Our advice for those asking (about the dating apps the predators are on) is to check their child’s phone for any dating app or apps that can be used to chat,” Laura said. “[Predators] use any and all sites. Please just monitor your child’s phone. These predators have no limit to what they will use.”
Although McCray is the only predator to be arrested at this point in time, there are other investigations taking place in communities where Predator Hunters USA has exposed predators. Josh could not release further information regarding other investigations, because the team does not want to interfere with the law enforcement investigation or possible charges.
While the team wants to fully cooperate with law enforcement and prosecution, Josh noted that some agencies have been “super” supportive, and others not as supportive. However, Josh said he believes those not as supportive are more concerned about the team’s safety. Recently, some law enforcement agencies have been telling the team what types of evidence will be needed in order to arrest, prosecute, and convict predators.
“Instead of just exposing these predators, we want to try to get them all convicted,” Josh said.
Law enforcement has taken statements from decoys in some of the cases, and, if a case is prosecuted, decoys, administrators, and Josh may have to testify in court regarding their roles in exposing the predators.
“We are all willing to cooperate,” Josh said. “Anyone on my team who would need to testify will. They are all aware of the risks that come along with this. I have a great dedicated team who share my passion in this. We just want a safer world for the children of today and the future.
The work that Josh and his team takes part in is dangerous. They are not dealing with harmless, law-abiding individuals. Predators may have more sinister crimes in mind, like murder. When asked what safety precautions are taken, aside from conducting exposures on Facebook live, Josh explained he tries to have a second person with him for backup. He also has his permit to carry.
“I always tell people that if I get hurt or die doing this, that is fine,” he said. “I would rather it be me than a child. My family knows the risks of what I am doing. They are very supportive.”
In order to equip and fund the team’s efforts, Predator Hunters USA solicits gas cards, phones, old tablets, and monetary donations on its Facebook page. It also sells T-shirts, bracelets, sweatshirts, and decals.
Predator Hunters USA is hosting a team meet and greet Saturday, Nov. 17 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Forest Lake American Legion, 355 West Broadway Avenue.