A despicable video of child abuse that circulated on Facebook contained enough clues about the person who made it to send them to prison for life.
Elizabeth Haway, of Princeton, West Virginia, USA, was sentenced to a total of 155 years’ imprisonment this week after a case that the president of the court called “one of the most vile and horrifying cases” he had ever seen.
The troubling case began to unfold after Detective Steve Sommers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office received a tip on a horrific child abuse video distributed through Facebook’s Messenger service.
Detective-Sgt. Sommers started an investigation to find out who was behind the video of an adult woman engaging in sexual acts with a young girl.
Sommers received a search warrant on Facebook and forced them to disclose Haway’s Facebook records.
The Facebook evidence enabled him to trace the video back to Haway’s account, and further investigation revealed it wasn’t the only video of her kind she uploaded.
Although Haway’s face was not visible in the clips, detective Sgt. Sommers saw enough details to determine that the crimes were committed by her in her own bathroom.
“I estimated the child’s age to be between 5 and 6 years old,” he said in his report. “I also noticed that the bathtub was clearly cracked in the frame on the wall and the bathtub and that the adult female had a tattoo on her finger of a smiling face (two dots and a line).”
In court, prosecutor George Sitler asked the court to impose the maximum sentence on Haway.
Mercer County Circuit Court judge William Sadler said during his conviction of 43-year-old Haway that “this child has been sustained in life.”
“This child has lost innocence that can never be restored or replaced,” he said.
“I have been involved in the criminal justice system for more than 30 years. From that point of view, this is one of the most despicable and horrifying cases I have ever experienced in the criminal justice system. ”
Haway was sentenced to 25 to 100 years’ imprisonment on two counts of first-degree sexual assault, currently pending. She received another five to 25 years on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, which will take place simultaneously.
She was also sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for two counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or custodian.
Those sentences run simultaneously.
She will also serve for five to fifteen years on each of the two incest costs, which will run simultaneously.
Sitler estimated that because of this, Haway received a prison sentence of 45 to 155 years. She will be about 88 years old if she is eligible for parole.