Target 2 Investigates: A sex offender messaged their daughter, but no law was broken

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Panic turned to anger when a Green Bay couple found out a registered sex offender had used social media to contact their 13-year-old daughter and it wasn't against the law.

Mark Charles - Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry photo

Ryan Murdock and Alecia Boyd called police to report the messages in which the offender asked their daughter to meet him. Despite the man's criminal history, they were told he broke no laws.

Target 2 Investigates started digging into the policies regarding sex offenders and social media and what constitutes a violation of the sex offender registry.

THE BEGINNING

Fifty-two year old Mark Charles is on Wisconsin's Sex Offender Registry for life. He was convicted in 2004 of 1st Degree Sexual Assault of a Child.

Charles has a history of cases in which he targeted teen girls. He spent several years in prison for it.

Charles recently sent a Facebook message to a 13-year-old Green Bay girl and asked to meet with her. To the horror of her parents, they learned he did nothing illegal.

The girl's mother, Alecia Boyd, showed Target 2 Investigates the messages Mark Charles sent to her daughter.

"He says, 'Hi, I would like to go out sometime, to have a good time, as friends. My name is Mark, and I live in Green Bay,'" reads Alecia.

THE MESSAGES CONTINUE

That's the first message Charles sent to the 13-year-old daughter of Alecia Boyd and Ryan Murdock. She received the message via Facebook Messenger in October.

SARAH THOMSEN: "He waved [on Facebook] at her at 2:30 in the morning?"

ALECIA AND RYAN: "Yeah."

ALECIA BOYD: "He's like, 'Is your mom home?' And she's like 'yes.' And he's like, 'I'm texting her to see if it's OK to stop in but no answer.'"

Their daughter did not respond, but the messages kept coming. Charles told the girl to ask her brother if their mom was home. Charles used the brother's nickname. The parents say hardly anyone knows it.

Alecia Boyd reads the messages, "'Go ask [your brother] to ask if I can stop in please.' And then he's like, 'I have my Snapchat on no answer, sorry.'"

RYAN MURDOCK: "I just happened to be walking past her room and she was like, 'Daddy, look at this.'"

ALECIA BOYD: "I started freaking out, like, oh my God, who is this guy? And how does he know my son's nickname? Is he watching my daughter?"

Murdock responded to the messages and demanded Charles stop contacting his daughter.

Charles responded by saying he was texting his cousin and had the wrong person.

NO LAW BROKEN

Alecia and Ryan called police and then jumped online to find out what they could about Mark Charles.

"His whole Facebook page was the most creepiest I've ever seen in my life," Boyd says. "Every single status of his was about a shared post of children missing."

Alecia saved screenshots from Charles' Facebook page that night. She said he has deleted those posts.

"My first thought was Barron County, to be honest. I was just up there for work two weeks ago. I was at the same facility that Jayme Closs' parents worked at," Ryan Murdock says.

Jayme Closs was 13 -- the same age as their daughter -- when she was abducted from her Barron home and held in a remote residence in Gordon, Wisconsin.

Fear turned to frustration when police arrived.

"They kept asking, 'Did he say anything sexual?' And my response was, well of course not. I stopped them before it got there. No it didn't," Murdock says.

The messages had not escalated to what would be considered illegal.

Mark Charles must register for life on the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry, but that didn't matter.

"People who are on the registry, it really is a repository of information. It is not intended to add more punishment, per se, to restrict things. It's more of who's in your community," says Cari Taylor, Sex Offender Registry Supervisor at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

MARK CHARLES HISTORY

Target 2 Investigates searched the case file of Mark Charles. In 2003, he was charged with Sexual Assault of a Child for grabbing a 12-year-old girl's buttocks and standing outside of her bedroom window, according the complaint. He was sentenced in May 2004.

Target 2 found out that a month earlier, Charles was under investigation in Kewaunee County. Teenagers told police that Charles had called a girl and told her he wanted to meet her somewhere she would be comfortable.

He brought roses and a teddy bear to another girl at her place of work.

Charles was escorted out of a high school after a principal found him wandering the halls.

At that time, police said there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Less than two years later, Department of Corrections records show Charles "enticed" a 14-year-old girl who became fearful of him. His probation was revoked. A judge sentenced him to seven years in prison and five years on extended supervision.

A probation agent wrote that Charles "prowls for victims" and is "a threat to the community."

Charles completed supervision in 2017. That lifted his restrictions on talking with minors.

"I just had a sick feeling," Murdock says. "She's like, 'He's going to go to jail.' And I'm like, he's not on probation. He completed his probation. I don't think he's going to jail tonight."

Ryan Murdock is aware of the law. He's a registered sex offender from a "Romeo and Juliet" case with the mother of his child. It happened when he was a teen.

But this case is different. Police and the DOC agree, and launched an investigation.

CHARGING CHARLES

"The behavior was very concerning, especially given his prior offense history, which is why law enforcement was immediately investigating the case to see if any sort of crime had occurred," says Erica Frantz, Sex Offender Registration Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

They found a crime. It was not for enticement or for contacting young girls. Prosecutors filed a new felony charge against Charles because he failed to register his Facebook email address with the DOC. That's a violation of the sex offender registry.

Charles faces additional prison time.

Prosecutors say Charles recently tried to contact more than 10 girls on Facebook. Charles told police he was "just being friendly."

"If it's happening to us, well, I can promise there's someone else who it's happening to and they don't know," Murdock warns.

The DOC tells Target 2 that Charles and roughly 10,000 other registered sex offenders who are not on supervision are generally allowed on social media.

A 2017 United States Supreme Court ruling says not all offenders can be permanently banned from social media. CLICK HERE to read about that SCOTUS ruling.

Target 2 Investigates will have important information on what parents and children can do to protect themselves from online predators Thursday on Action 2 News.