More details released in South St. Paul sex abuse case


Aric Babbitt

Couple under investigation found dead of murder-suicide 

South St. Paul Police released documents at the end of last year regarding Aric Babbitt, 40, and his husband Matthew Deyo, 36, revealing more details about the pair’s alleged abuse of eight underage boys.

Babbitt, a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, and Deyo were found dead on an island in Washington state in August of last year, killed in an apparent murder-suicide. The abuse allegedly took place over the course of three years. 

The pair were first under investigation by the South St. Paul Police Department for allegedly having sexual contact with a 16-year-old boy and for inappropriate conduct with at least two other underage teens last summer, when they fled the state.

 

First victim comes forward

The 16-year-old victim and his parents went to police on Aug. 14, 2016, to report the boy’s ongoing sexual relationship with Babbitt and Deyo. At that time, the boy turned over Polaroid photos of him naked with Babbitt. He also told police that Babbitt was his former elementary teacher, mentor and volunteer work supervisor. 

According to reports, Babbitt and Deyo took the boy to a concert in Minneapolis, where the pair said they would treat him to a hotel stay.

Once at the hotel, the pair allegedly gave the boy alcohol and marijuana, and the boy became intoxicated.

Rather than going to the concert, Deyo offered to do a spinal adjustment on the boy’s back and give him a massage. However, even though Deyo was working towards being a chiropractor, he was not one. He told the boy not to tell anyone about it because he didn’t have his license.

The 16-year-old told investigators he did not want to have sex with the two men, but felt unsure on how to say no.

According to reports, while at the hotel, Babbitt and Deyo had sexual intercourse with the boy.

 

Other victims identified 

A few weeks after the incident in Minneapolis, Babbitt and Deyo invited the 16-year-old boy and his 16-year-old friend to Babbitt’s cabin outside of Brainerd. Babbitt and Deyo mentored the other teen as well. The teens were supplied with alcohol and marijuana. While at the cabin, Babbitt allegedly had sexual intercourse with one of the teens. The teen stated that Deyo knew it was happening and was in the kitchen watching to see if the other teen was still sleeping. 

One victim told investigators that while at dinner one night, Babbitt and Deyo yelled at them for using their phones and scolded them for paying more attention to their phones. 

 

Evidence piles up

According to reports, Babbitt and Deyo used different social media sites to communicate with each other. 

Babbitt was in one of the victims’ phone under a nickname. A victim, according to documents, gave investigators Babbitt’s name on Snapchat. Further, another victim said Babbitt had a Tumblr account, where he posted nude photos of himself without revealing his face. One victim stated Babbitt gave him the Tumblr account name. 

While speaking with a victim and his parents, a stack of mini Polaroid pictures, 13 in total, were produced. In two of the photos, there were two naked people laying on their stomachs and sides on a pontoon boat. These photos identified the two teens who had been at the cabin, as well as Babbitt.

On Aug. 16, a search warrant was executed at Babbitt and Deyo’s South St. Paul residence. Babbitt was home when the warrant was served and left to pick up Deyo from school. During the course of the search, several computers, phones, tablets, cameras and hard drives were confiscated. 

From these items, authorities uncovered photos, videos and communications among Babbitt, Deyo and alleged victims. Some of the photos and videos showed sexual encounters as well as photos of the victims in their underwear. Videos were found of victims showering. Some of the videos appeared to have been from a hidden camera. A hidden camera was found inside a clock radio in a bathroom.

Correspondence between Babbitt and Deyo were discovered as well, with the names of the alleged victims redacted from the documents police released. One conversation read:

“Should I be expecting a scantily clad 40 yo and [redacted] to give me some hugs and kisses this weekend?” Deyo asks in one message. “I just want to be able to hug and snuggle [redacted] for a couple mins without [redacted] feeling awkward.”

Babbitt responded, “You just need to grab him and make [redacted] sit on your lap every once in awhile. Also, if [redacted] all snuggled up on the couch or bed or something you just have to snuggle up next to [redacted.]”

 

Fleeing the state

Investigators searched the couple’s financial records and found they had purchased camping gear from Walmart on Aug. 16, while investigators searched the South St. Paul home. These records also showed Babbitt emptied his bank account.

According to documents, on Aug. 22, investigators called Babbitt’s mother who said her son was missing. No one from the family had heard from Babbitt or Deyo since Aug. 16, when the two approached Deyo’s brother asking for a gun, which they were given.

On Aug. 25, Rick Deyo, Deyo’s father, told authorities he received a letter from the two. The letter, postmarked Aug. 21, stated the men were going to end their lives on Lope Island in Washington state. 

Rick Deyo said he heard from his other son there was a news article about two bodies being found on the island earlier in the day on Aug. 25.

San Juan County in Washington identified the bodies as those of Babbitt and Deyo. A suicide note was found, explaining they were from Minnesota but always thought the island was beautiful, which is why they came there to die. The death was ruled a murder-suicide, with Deyo killing Babbitt before turning the gun on himself.

The couple wrote they had no interest going into details because it would not “be constructive for anyone, nor would it serve as peace for anyone.” The two said in the letter they did not believe they were monsters though they said they chose to kill themselves rather than being prosecuted.

Throughout the course of the investigation, several other victims came forward or were contacted by authorities. All gave statements regarding the actions of Babbitt and Deyo.

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

 

 

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