Family describes nightmare after 5-year-old gets letter from sex predator

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PHOENIX -- A Valley family is speaking out about the sexual predator who reached out to their daughter through the mail. They are among dozens of victims all over the country who got letters in the mailbox from a pedophile.

The mother says it changed her daughter's life. They won’t let her play outside or go anywhere alone. They’re constantly looking over their shoulders and even got a guard dog.

He spots them on TV reports or reads about them in newspapers, where they appear for things like swimming events or gymnastics -- often where you can see the girls’ legs.

Then he writes to them describing how he wants to have sex with them.

“This letter writing is what this animal is all about,” said police Sgt. Darren Burch.

He prefers 8- and 9-year-olds, and over the last 10 years he's sent out more than 41 sexually graphic notes across the Valley.

"It could be someone you know, it could be the guy next door, it could be somebody's uncle,” Dana said.

Dana's daughter got a letter from him after appearing in a local paper for winning a scholarship.

"She was only 5,” Dana said. “So she got this personal letter and it was really written nicely it looked like it was going to be a birthday invitation or a personal letter. So I actually gave it to her because at that age they love to open mail."

But it soon turned into a nightmare.

"’Mommy there's a naked girl in here,’” Dana recalled her daughter saying. “So that's when I grabbed the letter and read it and it was awful, it was absolutely one of the most horrible things -- you can't imagine. They invaded your home; they invaded your child's life. They're so sweet and innocent."

Investigators say nationwide he's stolen the innocence of more than 80 children.

Police believe the suspect is an older, well-educated man based on his writing skills and choice of words. They say DNA taken from the letters, all postmarked out of Phoenix, does not match anyone in the criminal system.