Wayne Kenneth Johnson appears via Zoom during a probable cause hearing Jan. 19 in the Oakland County 52-1 District Court.

Wayne Kenneth Johnson appears via Zoom during a probable cause hearing Jan. 19 in the Oakland County 52-1 District Court.

Photo by Brian Wells

Predator Catchers sting leads Novi police to arrest man for allegedly arranging meetup with teen

By: Brian Wells | Novi Note | Published January 26, 2022


NOVI — An organization aimed at catching sexual predators allegedly arranged to meet a man in Novi, where he was arrested Jan. 9.

Predator Catchers Inc., a nonprofit based in Indianapolis, advised the Novi Police Department that the nonprofit had been conversing with a suspect online while posing as a 14-year-old girl, Novi Police Lt. Jason Meier said in an email. Members of the organization reportedly had arranged for the man to travel to Novi to meet the girl.

When officers arrived, they met with representatives from the organization and the suspect. Evidence was presented to the department that established probable cause, and the suspect, Wayne Kenneth Johnson Jr., 52, of Rochester Hills, was taken into custody.

Predator Catchers Inc. posted a Facebook live video of the confrontation and arrest. After Johnson was arrested, the organization turned over its evidence to the department.

The department is OK with people taking on these investigations, but it asks that people work with the department.

“I’m all for getting these people off the streets. That’s a great thing,” Meier said. “I just wish they worked with us a little bit better — you know, contact us ahead of time for their safety and so that we have an idea of what’s going on in our city too.”

Even though the methods were unconventional, Meier said the evidence obtained was enough to make the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office confident in bringing charges.

Johnson was arraigned in the Oakland County 52-1 District Court Jan. 11. He was charged with one count of accosting children for immoral purposes, and one count of using a computer to commit a crime.

Since his arrest, Johnson has been held in the Oakland County Jail on a $50,000 bond. A probable cause hearing scheduled for Jan. 19 was adjourned until Feb. 9.

A request for comment from the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office was not returned. Johnson’s attorney, Richard Taylor, also did not return a request for comment.

An interview was arranged with Predator Catchers Inc. However, members of the organization did not keep the appointment.

Predator Catchers Inc. is a group of volunteers who state that they want to collaborate with law enforcement, prosecutors and other groups to protect communities and youth against online child predators, according to their website.

In 2015, Johnson pleaded guilty in the Macomb County Circuit Court to a charge of child sexually abusive commercial activity, according to court records. He was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation.