305: Steve Bennett – Missing Teen, Online Offender

Retired agent Steve Bennett reviews a case involving a 15-year-old missing teen, “Jenny,” who disappeared but returned home after a few weeks. When a relative recovered a piece of paper in Jenny’s purse with the name and address of a man living in Minneapolis, MN, police suspected the stranger had something to do with her initial disappearance.

After local detectives determined the inter-state aspects of the case were beyond the scope of their department, the case of the missing teen was referred to the Springfield FBI office and assigned to Steve, who, with assistance from the division’s victim specialist and CART investigated, arrested and convicted Gary Wikelius for Interstate Transportation of a Minor for the Purpose of Sex, under the Mann Act.

Steve Bennett served in the FBI for 23 years. His first office was the Springfield, Illinois, Field Office, where he served for ten years as a Safe Streets Task Force Coordinator on cases involving the most dangerous violent offenders.

During that time, Steve became a member of the SWAT team and was a special agent assessor, which was a very rewarding extra duty where he traveled to various locations in the country to be part of a team interviewing new special agent candidates.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he assisted the Evidence Response Team and traveled to New York to help sift through debris from the World Trade Center attack. There was a shift in FBI priorities after 9/11, which meant more agents, intelligence analysts, and other professional staff were dedicated to national security matters like counterterrorism and counterintelligence. At that point, Steve was reassigned to a counterintelligence squad in Springfield.

In 2009, Steve was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent in the Counterterrorism Division at FBIHQ, and later became a Unit Chief of a 24 hour-a-day operation at the Terrorist Screening Center. He spent the last two years in the Office of Partner Engagement, Violence Reduction Unit, where he oversaw an amazing team responsible for the FBI’s Active Shooter Response Program.

They also tracked active shooter incidents throughout the country which were compiled into an annual report titled, Active Shooter Events in the United States, which was useful for law enforcement, academia, faith-based organizations, schools, and the private sector, to further understand active shooter attacks and how to prevent them.

Since retiring, He started his own company, Lincoln 41, LLC, which conducts private investigations and provides law enforcement training and consulting.

He has also worked for private companies supporting the insider threat mission and is a member of The Bureau Consortium of mass shooting and workplace violence experts forged through unparalleled FBI experience.

Special Agent (Retired)

Steve Bennett

1997 – 2020








“So, the fact pattern we had really supported a crime called Transportation Of A Minor With Intent To Engage In Sex, which is part of what’s called the Mann Act. And the three elements I would have to prove would be that Gary knew or should have known that Jenny was in fact a minor, she was under the age of 18, and that he transported her across state lines, that gives FBI jurisdiction and establishes the interstate nexus, and that that travel was for purposes of sex.” —Retired Agent Steve Bennett

The following are links to court documents related to subject Gary Wikelius who met the missing teen online, drove her across state lines to abuse her and was sentenced to 121 months in a federal prison facility where he would receive intense therapy related to his sexual deviance, be on supervised release for three years after being released, and placed on the sexual offender list:

US vs. GARY LEE WIKELIUS 10-26-2004

USA v. Wikelius – Illinois Central District Court, Case No. 3:03-cr-30108-JES

FBI.gov Website – Sextortion: What Kids and Caregivers Need to Know







Listen to these FBI Retired Case File Review episodes to learn more about how to protect our kids when they’re online:

Episode 059: Jim Clemente – Preventing the Sexual Victimization of Children

Episode 199: John Iannarelli – Keeping Teens Safe Online

Episode 215: James Kyle – Interviewing Pedophiles, Conversation with Purpose

Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.

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