Zachary Myers met up with a 14-year-old girl at a local park in Evans, Colorado, with a twisted plan, police say.
That was November 2015, and Myers, now 23, took the teen to his house and sexually assaulted her, police told the Greeley Tribune. He threatened suicide to coerce the girl into keeping a relationship with him, police say, and even warned he would kill himself on her front porch if she didn't comply.
That teenager alerted officers at the Evans Police Department, who say they opened an investigation into the allegations and discovered that Myers had used similar tactics on other girls, too. During a trial Tuesday for Myers in Weld County, Deputy District Attorney Arynn Clark argued that the 23-year-old was intentionally seeking out vulnerable girls for a specific reason, the Greeley Tribune reported.
"(He had a) plan to create a harem for himself of children on the internet that he could exploit," Clark said. "Eight children. He wanted his harem and he went hunting, and he found young girls and he exploited them."
Clark testified that Myers kept a running list of teenagers whom he knew he could pressure into sending more sexually explicit images — so long as he guilted them with threats of suicide. Multiple victims are expected to testify against Myers in this trial, which is set to be finished by the end of April, according to the Greeley Tribune. The man is alleged to have victims from Colorado to New Hampshire.
In a case involving another teen, Myers has already been found guilty of sexually assaulting and exploiting a child, among other charges, by a Jefferson County jury in December, 9News reported. That trial involved another 14-year-old girl, who said Myers claimed to be just 16 when they chatted on the app KIK and then started texting in September 2015. He was given 18 years to life in that case.
That teen in the Jefferson County case said Myers stalked her down and attacked her from behind while she walked her dog on a Bear Creek hiking trail a month later. He took her to a nearby bush, police alleged to Fox31, and made the teen give him oral sex. "It was hard for her to breathe" during the assault, the victim told police, and she ran away after Myers stopped grabbing her by the hair.
Even after she got away, the girl alleged that Myers placed the blame on her, Fox31 reported.
“It’s your fault I’m like this, I only have so long to live," he allegedly said. "I have cancer, you know this, you should come let me do this before I die."
The girl said she asked Myers to stop texting her in the months after the assault, 9News wrote, but he responded with pictures of an arm covered in cuts and another of a shotgun in his mouth. Myers said he loved the 14-year-old and would end his life if she avoided him, police say.
Evans police say they went through Myers' phone — which led them to loads of child pornography that linked the man to other girls he sexually harassed and assaulted, including the teenager on the hiking trail. Until police reached out, that girl he allegedly assaulted had not contacted police.
Peter Weir, district attorney for the first judicial district, explained in December why that teenager didn't initially tell police about the attack.
“Unfortunately, sex assault victims often do not report for many reasons," he told The Denver Post. "In this case, the child had been groomed, manipulated, threatened, and stalked. And Myers convinced her it was her fault. This is a particularly heinous act.”