LANSING — Matthew Toole, 33 of Battle Creek, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and one felony count of conspiracy to commit first degree criminal sexual conduct on a child under the age of 13, a press release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.
Toole was the fourth and final co-defendant in a Coldwater child sex abuse conspiracy ring that has made headlines locally. Both of the counts are punishable by up to life in prison, the release said.
In May 2018, Michigan State Police received a complaint from a witness who claimed Toole and a co-defendant, 33-year-old Talia Furman, also of Battle Creek, had child sexually abusive material on their phones and had plans to abuse and murder a young girl.
It was discovered upon further investigation by MSP and the Michigan Department of Attorney General that several messages were exchanged with another co-defendant in the case, David Bailey, 37 of Kalamazoo, which detailed the same plans to abuse and kill a young girl.
Evidence from the phone of Bailey’s girlfriend and the fourth defendant in the case, Jaime LaPoint, revealed that she also engaged in these conspiracies with Toole and Furman. The four met for pizza at Bailey’s home and laid out the plot to kidnap a child from the county fair, rape and then murder that child.
“One of our important responsibilities as law enforcement officers is the safety and welfare of our children and residents,” Nessel said. “I am incredibly proud of the swift action taken by the Michigan State Police and our career prosecutors, who intercepted these plans to carry out incredibly heinous crimes and prevented Michigan children from being harmed.”
Furman, Bailey and LaPoint have all been sentenced to 25 years each in prison for their crimes. Toole’s sentencing is set for Friday, January 13 in Branch County Circuit Court.