Neil Rodreick Haven II, a 29-year-old registered sex offender who masqueraded as a 13-year-old boy, started a skateboarding club when he lived in Payson and was well-known to teens who hung out at the Rumsey Park skate park.
Payson Police Sgt. Tom Tieman said he first started his investigation after being informed by Yavapai County authorities that Rodreick may have attended area schools.
He said he looked into the Rim Country Middle School and a charter school in Star Valley and determined he had never enrolled in either. Rodreick was enrolled for 21 days in the Shelby School, a charter school in Tonto Village.
After the sex offender's photo was on the television news and in the newspaper, he was recognized by local teens.
Tieman said he received a call from a parent whose son had been in a skate club that Rodreick formed in Payson.
Tieman said the first child gave him other names of children who were on Rodreick's Plan Z Skate Team. Soon, other parents were calling Tieman.
Charley Lopez, 18, who was a member of the team, remembers Rodreick, who claimed he was 13 years old.
Lopez said he observed what he thought was makeup on Rodreick, but never envisioned he was an adult who had previously had been convicted of sexual crimes.
He said the man looked to be close to 30.
"I would make fun of him like kids do," he said, referring to how old the team founder looked.
Rodreick, known to the team as "Casey," told them his parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce battle in Oklahoma City, so he was staying with his uncle for a short time.
Lopez said the man was quiet, but did talk to team members. Lopez said he was one of the older team members (17 at the time).
When asked how he found out about the team, he said it was common knowledge at the skate park. "Kids around the park were saying, ‘Casey is starting a skate team.'"
Lopez said Rodreick made all team members sign a release form that parents also had to sign.
He said he could never have envisioned who Rodreick actually was.
"I couldn't imagine it," he said.
"I felt so used. Here's this kid we felt sorry for because (of his family problems).
"It was unbelievable. I was in complete shock."
Tieman said he interviewed about a dozen children that were on the Plan Z Skate Team, and added that it appears nothing improper occurred.
Lopez said he has yet to talk to police.
"They were not happy campers," Tieman said of the children and parents. "They were upset and mad that they had been (conned)."
The police sergeant said three members of the skate team had gone to Rodreick's trailer to discuss team issues.
Tieman said it is pretty obvious what the man's intent was since he was hanging out with a lot of 12- to 13-year-old children.
The majority of the children in the club were 13, but the ages ranged from 12 to 17.
The police sergeant said Rodreick posted a Web site for the team but took it down when he moved to El Mirage, a city west of Phoenix.
Tieman said he was unaware there was a skate team in Payson, but was not surprised there was one.
"I could see someone saying, ‘Let's get a club together,'" he said, adding that none of the children thought they were skating with a man.
The children Tieman has spoken with thought that Rodreick was around 16 years old. Lopez said that is the age he thought Rodreick may have been, but was told by the man that he was 13.
Tieman mentioned that Rodreick had been in an Oklahoma prison after being convicted of indecent exposure, which leads him to believe that the man was planning on doing something to the children he was hanging out with.
Tieman said he has one final interview on Monday with an adult, but reiterated that Rodreick did not commit any type of sexual crime or any other crime by impersonating a teenager.
"You can impersonate Bugs Bunny if you want to," he said. "We can pretty well guess for ourselves what he was doing," adding that it did not go as far as the man wanted it to go.
"They moved out probably because he was getting close to being found out," he said. "It is something (sex offenders) do."
Anyone with further information or anyone who may have come in contact with Rodreick is asked to call Tieman at (928) 474-5177.
Rodreick and three other accomplices are currently in a Yavapai jail on a variety of charges.
See related story:
Sex offender attended Tonto Village school (Jan. 26)