Editor’s note: This story contains graphic content that some readers might find objectionable.
A Shelby County man has pleaded guilty to posting an online ad seeking to kill and eat a child.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith F. Giblin last week accepted the guilty plea of Alexander Nathan Barter of Joaquin on two counts — attempted coercion and enticement and distribution of child pornography — of a four-count indictment.
Sentencing had not been set as of Tuesday, and sentencing recommendations remained closed from public view.
Investigators set their eyes on Barter in October 2018 when he posted an advertisement on the dark web — a heavily encrypted series of websites often used for illegal activity.
“I’d like to try necrophilia and cannibalism and see how it feels to take a life. If you’d be willing to let me kill you and are in the US (preferably in the south) and can travel by car, contact me,” Barter wrote, according to court filings.
An undercover agent in Central Florida responded to the ad, claiming to have similar interests and saying that he was the father of a 13-year-old daughter.
“I’m not into roleplay either,” Barter wrote to the agent. “I’m very serious about doing this. I live in the woods, so I can make sure her body won’t ever be found.”
The agent agreed to meet Barter, who provided a map, information about a hotel and what the officer should tell his daughter to get her to travel, according to court records. Barter then instructed the officer how to wipe his electronic devices and destroy evidence after the murder.
They arranged a meeting for Oct. 19, 2018, in Joaquin, where Barter arrived with a garbage bag, knife, cellphone and tablet computer containing child pornography, according to court records.
Barter had more than 600 images of child pornography, some including infants and toddlers. Several of the images depict children being tortured, according to court records.
His plea was accepted Jan 9, two days before a deadline that had been extended from September.
Defense attorney John D. McElroy noted in several court filings leading up to the plea that he and federal prosecutors have been working on a deal for months.
Barter’s been in federal custody since his arrest in October 2018. Legal proceedings came to a stop last November when a judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation. The evaluation by Dr. Tennille Warren-Phillips found that Barter is competent to stand trial. The full competency evaluation was given to his defense attorney and prosecutors but remains sealed from public view.
In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors have sought to seize 39 pieces of electronic equipment believed to have been used to store and transmit child pornography. The plea filing made no mention of the property forfeiture.