A former deputy coroner with the Dawson County Coroner’s Office was arrested earlier this week for alleged child pornography, according to a Jan. 12 press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Dawson County resident James Ricky Wiggins, 55, was arrested on Jan. 10 and charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of children by the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit.
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While Wiggins did serve as a deputy coroner, he was terminated from that position and his job at Bearden Funeral Home in light of the arrest, said funeral home president and Dawson County Coroner Ted Bearden.
The GBI CEACC Unit began investigating Wiggins after receiving a request for assistance from the Parkersburg Police Department in West Virginia. Investigators from the West Virginia agency previously obtained an arrest warrant for Wiggins for use of obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor, the GBI’s press release stated.
A PPD investigator and GBI agents located Wiggins at his Dawson County home, where he was arrested on the West Virginia charges. At that time, a search warrant was also executed, and Wiggins was found to be in possession of child sexual abuse material, resulting in the additional charges in Georgia, the press release stated.
The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, and the GBI Cleveland Regional Investigative Office also assisted in this investigation.
Wiggins was taken to the Dawson County Detention Center, where he remains without bond.
The multi-state investigation into Wiggins was a partnership between the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces in Georgia and West Virginia. PPD belongs to the West Virginia ICAC Task Force, and the GBI’s CEACC Unit is the host agency for the Georgia ICAC Task Force, the release added.
“Nobody ever knows what goes on in someone's personal life,” Ted Bearden said. “No one in his personal life could've had the ability to see this coming.”
“I can assure you that even [with] his work that the coroner's office does, it was always done with the utmost consideration, with professionalism and courtesy to the families. That professionalism, confidence and courtesy has never been and will never be compromised,” Bearden added.
Anyone with information about other cases of child exploitation is asked to contact the GBI’s CEACC Unit at 404-270-8870 or report via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline at CyberTipline.org.
Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.