Parents of late Streetsboro high schooler warn of teen sextortion

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 9:54 PM EST
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STREETSBORO, Ohio (WOIO) - It is a parent’s worst nightmare - a Streetsboro boy took his own life due to sextortion.

“He loved his friends, hanging out, going to games, football games, hang out and eat all the time... they eat all the time,” said the victim’s father, Timothy Woods.

Woods was just a kid who was bright and loving.

The 17-year-old attended Streetsboro High School.

He was still learning, growing, and trying to understand the world around him.

Woods’ life was cut short Saturday, Nov. 19.

He died by suicide.

“I was the one who discovered his body, it was about 6:35 p.m. when I came in and found him,” said Timothy.

Police said his tragic death was a result of sextortion.

It’s an online crime that happens when an adult poses as a same-aged peer to convince the victim to share sexual pictures or perform sexual acts on camera.

“We didn’t even know what had happened, what was the trigger or why it happened until it was too late,” the late teen’s mother, Tamia Woods, said.

There were no visible signs leading up to the day - it all happened in less than 24 hours.

Woods’ parents said their son was initially contacted on Instagram the night before his death.

He interacted with a girl on video.

The person on the other end sent inappropriate pictures to Woods.

“They sent it first like oh ok, your turn, he fell for it, they screenshot and they made good on their promise. They said ‘we will send it out on social media.’ They sent it out to his friends,” said Tamia. “They committed child pornography, extortion, everything.”

“They told him they were going to ruin his life, they told him crazy stuff that you would never want your 17-year-old to go through.”

Woods handed over $100 in hopes they would stop.

However, it wasn’t enough.

They kept going and pushed him over the edge.

“He felt like he didn’t have no other choice.”

they even tried to force Woods’ parents to send over some cash,” said Tamia.

“They sent me a picture of James and his private area and told us we had to send them money now. They tried to extort us.”

Although Woods’ family is dealing with a tremendous loss, they’re using this time to send a message to parents and their children.

“No matter how embarrassing things are, you can always go to someone, your parents are always your first line of defense for you in the world. They are there to help, no matter what,” said Timothy.

“With this topic, please educate yourself so you can teach your children how to stay away from the evil that took onto our child,” said Tamia.

Streetsboro police said Woods was not the only victim.

If you believe your child is a victim, call Streetsboro police at 330-626-4976.

Woods’ funeral is set for Saturday, Dec. 3 at Calhoun Funeral Home in Bedford Heights from 1:30-2:30 p.m.

If you need help, call 988 for the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

You can also call Cuyahoga County’s 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at 216-623-6888.

You may also text “4HOPE” to 741741, or simply call 911.