Mother’s intuition puts a Bloomington man behind bars on child exploitation charges

BLOOMINGTON — A mother’s intuition and identification of a man’s tattoo resulted in a Bloomington man being arrested for exploiting her 14-year-old child.

According to court records, Joshua Vestal had been living with the mother and child since his release from prison in January 2022. The mother suspected “something was wrong” so she went through Vestal’s phone in September.

Joshua Vestal

She found two nude photographs of her daughter that were taken inside of her home. She also found a video of her daughter being touched.

She was able to identify who was touching her daughter by the tattoo on Vestal’s forearm.

She also found videos of Vestal performing sexual acts on her daughter. Vestal’s face along with his tattoos were pictured in the videos. One of the videos was dated September 5, 2022.

In the video, the girl calls out Vestal’s nickname Bitty.

The mother confronted Vestal about the photos and videos, but he tried to convince her that was not what she had seen. She then told Vestal that she had sent the videos and photos to her phone. Vestal then took the woman’s phone and submerged it in the toilet tank. He then factory reset his phone.

When Vestal fell asleep the woman took the phones to an area store and she replaced her own phone and got a new sim card for Vestals. After activating her own phone she discovered the second video had synched to her Google Drive. The other two videos had not.

The woman then reported the incidents to the police. Police attempted to find Vestal but he had fled in the woman’s car. They arrested him the next day when he returned to the apartment.

Vestal denied the allegations and said it was not him in the video. He told police he makes anime porn with real-life characteristics. He then asked for an attorney and the questioning stopped.

Vestal was arrested on charges of child exploitation, sexual misconduct with a minor, and possession of child pornography.