A former trooper from the Delaware post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol was charged with cyberstalking and deprivation of rights under color of law in U.S. District Court Thursday for stalking a woman in 2015.
William P. Elschlager, 48, of Marietta, Ohio, was arrested by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday night and appeared in U.S. District Court in Columbus Thursday afternoon for an initial appearance.
According to the complaint, Elschlager was a lieutenant at the Marietta post of the highway patrol in 2015 when he began engaging in an affair with the wife of another trooper. Court documents indicate that the woman described Elschlager as “creepy” and reported that she once found a large ball of her hair that Elschlager had made.
District Court officials also reported that the victim state she also discovered folders on Elschlager’s iPad labeled with women’s names that included pictures of the women taken from social media accounts. The victim reported one of the folders had her name and contained pictures of her with her husband cropped out.
The victim also stated she would awake to Elschlager taking photographs of her sleeping when she did not know he was in the home with her.
Court officials report Elschlager allegedly began stalking the victim in October 2015 after she ended their relationship. The affidavit alleges that he frequently followed the victim in vehicles, texted her knowledge of her whereabouts and showed up at her residence unannounced.
In December 2015, Elschlager allegedly placed a GPS tracking device on the victim’s vehicle and conducted an unlawful traffic stop of the victim, during which time he turned off his audio recording. Around this time, Elschlager also allegedly told the victim that he had named her and her son on his life insurance policy. He had obtained their personal information from the personnel file of the victim’s husband.
District court officials also report that during that same month, the victim’s vehicle broke down due to a missing radiator cap and Elschlager arrived on the scene. Court documents state that search warrants obtained by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for Elschlager’s electronic devices revealed Internet searches such as “how long can a car go without a radiator cap.”
The victim said she became increasingly fearful of Elschlager and that on one occasion when she noted he was carrying guns on his person he responded: “I always have a gun on me. You’ve just never known it.”
Subsequent search warrants and investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in January 2016 showed GPS tracking software on Elschlager’s personal cell phone, which had been tracking the victim’s vehicle for two months.
Investigators discovered video recordings and photographs taken through the window of a residence in which the victim was located. They also revealed law enforcement information and photographs generated from the driver’s licenses of at least 10 females on Elschlager’s personal computer.
The women confirmed that they were stopped by an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper on the dates of the photographs; they could not verify the name of the trooper that stopped them.
Court officials said cyberstalking is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Deprivation of rights under color of law carries a potential maximum sentence of one year in prison.
Elschlager has been a trooper for the highway patrol since 1997 and previously worked at the Delaware Post several years ago. In 2011, Elschlager was ordered to destroy two firearms after an investigation was concluded.
Delaware County prosecutors said last year that while investigators were search Elschlager’s Marietta home as part of the stalking case they discovered that Elschlager had kept the guns for himself and not destroyed them. Prosecutors said one of the guns was still in the evidence bag.
Elschlager was indicted by a Delaware County Grand Jury in May 2016 and charged with one count of tampering with records and six counts of theft, third-degree felonies. He was scheduled to stand trial in November 2016, but it was delayed after he appealed a decision made by Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley.
The appeals case is still ongoing and a new trial in Delaware County has not been set.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported in 2016 that Elschlager was dismissed on Feb. 1, 2016 for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”
Elschlager appeared in court on Thursday and was released on a recognizance bond on the condition that he have no contact with the victim in this case.
The federal investigation was a joint effort between United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Benjamin C. Glassman; Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Angela L. Byers; and Washington County Sheriff Larry R. Mincks, Sr.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.