EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) More than four months after a Mississippi man is sentenced for stalking young women over the internet, three Evansville women are honored by federal prosecutors.
Authorities arrested Orlando Webber last year, who was sentenced for interstate stalking.
Webber was sentenced to 46 months in prison for stalking as many as 30 Evansville area women over the internet. But it took a few of them to come forward, and put him behind bars.
“It’s hard to call them victims, they’re really just courageous advocates for what they did,” said Josh Minkler, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Haley Tepool, Maddie Burger, and Anna Higgins got awards for outstanding contribution to a prosecution for reporting vulgar messages to investigators, providing tips and making victim impact statements during his sentencing.
“Everybody kind of encouraged us to stand up and tell somebody and make a difference and try to end it,” says Burger.
“Just an eye opening experience that we wanted to end,” adds Tepool.
Burger was recognized for giving authorities info on webber including a picture of his face, after he sent an explicit message to her. She says it was tough for authorities to catch him because his accounts kept being deleted by social media companies after other people reported accounts he used to have.
“I was talking to my mom about the case, and right as I was talking about it, my phone got a notification and he had sent me something on Instagram, I think, and I said, ‘Mom! Mom! He had sent me something,'” she recalled.
Tepool testified at Webber’s sentencing, describing the toll those explicit messages took.
“It was definitely in everyone’s best interest to be there and have the judge hear from a victim’s perspective exactly what we went through,” she says.
Both hope this encourages others to come forward if they experience the same problems they did.
“I know a lot of people, they feel like if they speak up, nothing might come of it, but there is something that can happen and somebody can put a stop to something they think can happen,” says Burger.
(This story was originally published on December 9, 2019)