Two young women who work at a Wheelersburg cell store are being hailed as heroes. Their quick thinking helped cops bust a child predator. Scioto County Daily News spoke exclusively with their boss about what happened. He asked that we not use his name or the names of the heroic employees to protect their privacy.
Michael Zornes, 36, took his phone into Cell-Tech Express for a repair on Friday. He gave his password to the employees and signed a release that agreed to let employees test all functions of the phone. When a young tech got the device up and running, what she saw shocked her. The phone was loaded with pornographic material involving kids.
The owner said the young women working in his store are only in their early twenties and weren’t sure what to do. The immediately called him for advice on what to do next.
Once the worker described what was on the phone, her boss says there was no choice. “It was our duty to say something. We can’t not say something. Because of the severity of what she saw.”
Cell-Tech Express employees called the police. Then they were faced with the task of keeping Zornes in the store. The boss says it took police some time to get there. “It took them forever to arrive. Like 30 minutes.”
He said his employees played it cool and delayed Zornes. “I’m so proud of them. It was just the two girls there. I was on the phone with them, trying to help them out. You could hear him getting anxious up front. I was trying to direct her to buy more time. I’m so proud of them for being able to keep it together. They are literally heroes to me.”
Once police arrived, they arrested Zornes right there in the lobby of the store.
We can’t say exactly what was viewed on Zornes’s phone. Cell-Tech’s owner said a detective told him they were just scraping the surface of the problem. Zornes was charged with:
Eight of the rape charges carry a $100,000 cash or surety bond.
One of the charges has no bail.
The pandering charges each carry $20,000 bail.
Out There In The Open
The store owner said the puzzling part was that there was no attempt to hide the disturbing images on the phone. The images were still open on the phone when techs got it up and running.
“I think these kind of people they enjoy getting close to getting caught. It was stupid to come in like that. You give full consent for checking their device. It’s not likely something that started just now. There’s probably a trail of victims.”
They Couldn’t Even Escape
The owner said the whole situation makes him sick. “It eats me up to think about it. I have a little girl myself. I just can’t imagine. The thing that gets me the most is the fact that we are going through a pandemic right now. Those kids were stuck at home. There’s no school. They couldn’t even escape.”
He called his employees “Angels” and said, “I’m just glad that we were given the opportunity to expose something terrible here in our local hometown. I’m very proud of my team.”
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