SARstories News is our blog for all things Search & Rescue: interesting mission reports and articles, featured SAR teams and new items on the website, upcoming conferences, gear reviews, and anything else that piques our interest and we hope will pique yours.

Learn About Becoming a SAR Volunteer

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A SAR Impersonator

This information was posted on the SAR-L email list and, with permission, I'm sharing it here in order to help spread the word:

During a massive search in the San Diego area, a man named Stephen Watts, a.k.a Steph (pronounced "Steff"), presented himself to the Sheriff's Department and coordinating agencies as a member of 1st Special Response Group (1SRG), a known and reputable organization, in an attempt to insinuate himself into law enforcement search efforts. Soon after, Mr. Watts began blogging about his actions, including sensitive search information.

1SRG has never had a member, past or present, by this name or any reasonable variation, nor have they ever received and/or denied an application by such a person.

1SRG launched an investigation and determined that Stephen Watts is a freelance "investigative" reporter who provides titillating and "newsworthy" information to on-air broadcasts such as Nancy Grace, Greta Von Susteren, CourTV (now HLN), and other entertainment providers.

1SRG is sharing this information because Mr. Watts appears to have repeatedly joined with Texas Equusearch in their efforts and has made a number of other attempts prior to his actions in San Diego to insert himself into other search missions. He falsely stated that he was with 1SRG in an effort to further his own cause. Apparently, he has done this before, and 1SRG is concerned that he may try to do so again in the future.

From information obtained during the investigation, Mr. Watts arrived in San Diego, along with Tim Miller and Texas Equusearch, in the search for the McStay family. You can read the McStay relatives' account of  their experience with Mr. Watts at http://www.mcstayfamily.com/steph-watts-rumors.

While in San Diego with Texas Equusearch, Chelsea King disappeared, and Mr. Watts used that opportunity to get involved with a growing national news story.

After verifying their initial information with several agencies and individuals, 1SRG notified both the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the California Emergency Management Agency, the local SAR coordinator, state SAR coordinator, and, since this was an investigative effort that included federal agencies, contacts within the FBI. Based on further discussion, this issue is said to have been "handled and considered resolved."

1SRG also attempted to contact Mr. Watts through his personal webpage, his Facebook page, a phone number he gives on his website, and through email, in addition to their posts on the SAR-L lister and elsewhere. Mr. Watts has not returned their contacts.

On March 12th, formal "cease and desist" letters were sent to Mr. Watts, CourtTV/HLN, Nancy Grace, Greta Von Susteren, and those agencies who employ Mr. Watts for their "news" services, instructing them that any attempt to use 1SRG's name, logo, reputation, or other team affiliation would be met with legal action and that 1SRG would assist other SAR teams who may find themselves in a similar position.

This information is being provided in the attempt to stop Mr. Watts from breaching law enforcement and search mission security as he seeks confidential or legally protected information, as well as to protect both 1SRG and other SAR teams from those same efforts.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not much of a surprise. Steph Watts is a snake.
Tim Miller really should start doing better checks on the people he surrounds him with.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with post #1.

Anonymous said...

i think mike mcstay is the one who piggy backed onto the king funeral, he gave an interview about it, fgs.
So extremely tacky. He was putting himself in the same shoes as the Kings and unless he knows something we don't well...
Think outside the Box, Sheep!