ST. MARYS, Ga. - A 17-year-old was arrested Monday afternoon after Camden County deputies say he tried to entice a 10-year-old for indecent purposes.
Dennis Gary Sheppard was arrested at the entrance to Point Peter Landing by deputies who had been investigating a report of a man acting strangely. Investigators said they believe Sheppard, who lived near the neighborhood, was potentially fixated on one particular victim and arranged his life to have as much time near the victim as possible.
They said he knocked on the child's family's door and asked the boy to do something sexually explicit. Police did not say what exactly they believe the teen said.
The teen's family said he is innocent and would not do what he's accused of. They said he was in the neighborhood because he was doing yard work for the people who lived there.
"It's wrong," said Linda Richards, Sheppard's mother. "He didn't do it, it's got to be a case of misidentification."
Richards said her son stays at home to help her out, is homeschooled, and has never caused any trouble. She said her son has no interest in boys, has an intellectual disability and likely doesn't understand what's going on.
"He comes out here in the yard and plays with his Hotwheel cars," said Richards. "He doesn't have the mind of a 17-year-old or an adult."
In addition to the enticement charge, Sheppard was also charged with criminal attempt to commit child molestation. He is set to appear in court on Wednesday.
Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor said the arrest likely saved a young boy from a terrible fate.
"I believe the quick action by our deputies and the extraordinarily valuable help from the community saved this young boy from a very traumatic, life-altering and potentially life-threatening event," Proctor said. "Thankfully the victim is safe with his family."
The St. Marys Police Department assisted in the arrest.
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