The indictment and arrest of the assistant principal at Nixa Junior High School left some Nixa Public Schools patrons questioning the timing of his arrest, and whether or not children were unduly left in danger.
Colby Fronterhouse, 41, faces federal charges for producing child pornography. Fronterhouse is accused of of posing as a teenage girl to dupe a student into sending lewd photographs, therefore sexually exploiting a 13-year-old boy.
A boy and his father reportedly contacted a Christian County sheriff’s deputy in September 2020. The boy, identified in court documents as “John Doe,” had allegedly been exchanging text messages with Fronterhouse, who was reportedly posing as a 14-year-old girl.
According to Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, federal investigators did not know that the person on the other end of the communications with the boy was Fronterhouse right away.
"The affidavit reports that investigators learned that 'an unknown individual' was using av VOIP number with a burner phone. Investigators issued a series of subpoenas to determine the identity and location of the suspect," Ledford said in an email to the Headliner News. "As soon as that information was received, officers executed a search warrant at Fronterhouse’s residence on Jan. 26, 2021. An investigator contacted Nixa Junior High School the next day, and the federal criminal complaint was filed."
The gap in time between the initial contact with a sheriff's deputy and Fronterhouse's arrest is what left parents feeling uneasy.
Federal investigators determined Fronterhouse had obtained the child’s cell phone number through school records. Fronterhouse then allegedly used a “burner phone number” and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to contact the boy. Fronterhouse allegedly convinced the boy to send him sexually explicit photographs. Federal investigators allege Fronterhouse requested specific poses and types of images, all while engaging in sexually explicit conversations and making the boy believe he was exchanging messages with a girl.
Federal prosecutors had to collect evidence and verify the allegations against Fronterhouse prior to his arrest.
"While it is true that several months passed from the date of the initial contact with law enforcement to the filing of the criminal complaint, there was no delay in investigating and prosecuting this case," Ledford said. "It simply required an amount of time to conduct the investigation, primarily the process of identifying and locating the suspect."
Ledford added that U.S. attorneys and the U.S. Marshal Service would not delay action in the event that a crime suspect posed an immediate danger to a community.
The Nixa Board of Education voted to fire Fronterhouse on Feb. 8, terminating his employment with Nixa Public Schools. The firing came about a week after Fronterhouse was arrested and indicted in federal court. Fronterhouse was placed on administrative leave at the immediate time of his arrest.
According to a statement from Nixa Public Schools Chief Communication Officer Zac Rantz, Fronterhouse’s termination of employment followed “the process and timeline laid out in board policy and state law.” The school board’s vote to fire Fronterhouse, Rantz said, was unanimous.
According to U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison of the Western District of Missouri, prosecutors are seeking help from the public in investigating the Fronterhouse case. Anyone with information regarding additional potential victims is asked to contact Homeland Security Investigations Task Force Officer Joseph Fletcher at (417) 572-2606.