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Highwood man charged with producing child porn, having sex with a dog

Thomas W. Keller, 40, of Highwood.

A Highwood man has been charged with producing and possessing hundreds of images and videos of child pornography, prosecutors said. He is also accused of having sex with a dog.

Thomas W. Keller, 40, of the 300 block of Grove Avenue in Highwood, was charged with five counts of child pornography, possession of methamphetamine, sexual conduct with an animal and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

The Highwood Police Department and the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office Cyber Crimes Division launched an investigation after obtaining “disturbing information” as part of an ongoing child exploitation investigation.

Investigators with the Lake County State’s Attorney Office and Highwood Police Department obtained a search warrant for Keller’s residence. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office was called to assist in executing the search warrant.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office simultaneously conducted a traffic stop on Keller at 9 a.m. Thursday morning and also assisted by making entry into Keller’s residence.

Officers methamphetamine and a loaded 9mm handgun during a search of the man’s vehicle. Keller has a registered Firearm Owner’s Identification Card but does not have a conceal carry permit, authorities said.

During the search warrant of his residence, officers recovered 10 to 12 hard drives and numerous flash drives from a safe which contained hundreds of files of child pornography.

In at least one video, Keller recorded sexual conversations with minors under the age of 13 on the internet and then shared video of other children performing sex acts, the state’s attorney’s office said.

Officers also confiscated additional methamphetamine in his home and took possession of a video where Keller had “sexual conduct” with a dog.

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“Crimes like this one that specifically prey on children are some of the most disgusting crimes we face in our office,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said.

“My office – and personally as state’s attorney – will work tirelessly to prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent allowed by law. I want to recognize the hard work put in by my staff and all the officers and departments involved in this case,” Nerheim said.

Keller was represented by the Lake County Public Defender’s Office at a bond hearing Friday morning.

Lake County Judge Paul Novak ordered the man to be held in the Lake County jail on a $750,000 bond. Keller is scheduled to appear in court again on August 13.

“This is a terrific example of law enforcement coming together to keep our most vulnerable safe. As a result of the hard work of our sheriff’s office, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, and numerous other agencies, this man will not be able to continue to prey on children in our community,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.

Investigators and detectives from the Highwood Police Department, Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and Lake County Sheriff’s Office were assisted by investigators and officers from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center, Waukegan Bomb Squad, and Lake Forest and Round Lake Beach police departments.


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