TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida man accused of using Facebook to harass Louisiana State University sorority pledges and pressure them into sending him nude pictures also is a suspect in other states, authorities said Friday.
Campus police officers at LSU and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on Thursday arrested 27-year-old Mitchell Hill at a home in Key West, where he works as a chef at a Cuban restaurant.
He's facing only Louisiana charges so far, but FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg said Hill is suspected in cyber-stalking investigations by police at the University of Florida, Florida State University and possibly other Florida schools.
Similar cases also have been reported at Auburn University, the University of Alabama and University of Tennessee, but investigators said there probably are others.
"It's really a huge sense of relief" knowing there has been an arrest, said 18-year-old Florida State student Ashley Atchison, who temporarily left school because she was so traumatized.
Hill, who moved to Florida from Cincinnati within the past two years, was being held without bond in the Monroe County Jail after he refused to waive extradition during a court appearance Friday in Key West.
He is charged with two counts of extortion, two counts of video voyeurism and 12 counts of attempted video voyeurism. Extortion is the most serious charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The video voyeurism charge can carry up to five years in prison.
Hill's lawyer, Richard Fowler, said he was representing Hill locally on a drunken driving charge and in extradition proceedings. He had no comment on the charges.
Campus police in Louisiana and Florida say victims in both states were contacted through Facebook by someone claiming to be an alumna of the sorority they were pledging. The stalker used fake names that included "Marissa" and "Lexie," asked intimate questions, and demanded that victims disrobe on camera or send nude photographs.
If they didn't comply, the stalker would threaten their standing with their sorority, said LSU police Sgt. Blake Tabor.
Atchison said in a telephone interview from her home in Jacksonville that she refused the demands for images by claiming she didn't have a camera. Then "Lexie" began playing mind games and suggested a couple girls who were outside her dorm would "handle" her.
"I started going to the counseling center because I was having whacky dreams and I was put on medicine because I wasn't sleeping," Atchison said. "It's just kind of creepy when somebody knows where your dorm is, what your class schedule is."
Hill was resourceful in finding personal information about the victims on Facebook, Tabor said.
"What we're hoping is that through this investigation that it'll heighten people's awareness of the information that they're putting out there and just how easily attainable it is," Tabor said.
LSU investigators had been working on the case since early October and finally got a break when Facebook provided data that led to Hill, Tabor said.
Authorities will ask Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to request that Hill be extradited to Louisiana. But that won't happen until a drunken driving charge against Hill is resolved in Florida.
FDLE agents also served a search warrant when Hill was arrested. They seized his computer and turned it over to LSU police, Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson said.
Atchison, meanwhile, is returning in January to Florida State.
"It's been a long time coming," she said. "But I'm very excited he's finally caught and not going to do this to any other girls."
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