HAYDEN, Idaho — The following story was reported by KREM 2 News partner the Coeur d'Alene/ Post Falls Press:
This story includes details involving suicide, child sexual abuse and child exploitation. Reader discretion is advised:
A man accused of posing as a teen boy in order to solicit sexually explicit photos from minors reportedly died by suicide this week.
Brett L. Nearing, 59, of Hayden died Tuesday night due to a self-inflicted injury, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.
Nearing was charged in April with sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16 and with six counts of sexual exploitation of a child by distribution or production of sexually explicit materials, all felonies.
He was released from jail on April 20, a week after his arrest.
Court records indicate that North Idaho oil and land dealer Delbert Kerr put up a home in Rimrock Meadows Estates, a gated community in Hayden Lake, as collateral for Nearing’s $1 million bail.
KCSO responded around 2 p.m. Tuesday to a report of an injured person in the parking lot of a Hayden church.
The individual, later identified as Nearing, had reportedly sustained a gunshot wound.
The church was unoccupied at the time of the shooting, police said. A person who had stopped in the parking lot for unrelated reasons reportedly discovered Nearing and called 911.
It’s unclear when the shooting occurred and how much time passed before Nearing was found.
Nearing was transported to Kootenai Health, where he died hours later.
In December 2021, the instant messaging app Snapchat reported to law enforcement an account that had allegedly distributed child sexual abuse material.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force took up the investigation, reportedly tracing the Snapchat account to Nearing’s IP address.
Police said they obtained photos and chat logs indicating Nearing pretended to be a teen boy in order to chat with minor girls, many of them younger than 15, and solicit nude photos from them.
When questioned by police, Nearing allegedly admitted to soliciting photos from hundreds of girls over the last three years.
He told police he traded some of the images with other people, in exchange for more illegal material.
If girls wanted to stop sending nude photos, Nearing said, he threatened to publicly post the photos they had already sent him.
He also allegedly paid about 50 girls to send him sexually explicit photos.
Police seized several electronic devices that belonged to Nearing, which he reportedly told them contained “hundreds” of images of child sexual abuse.
Investigators found sexually explicit images on the devices involving animals and children as young as infants, according to court documents.
A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for May 20.
An investigation into Nearing’s death is ongoing.
The North Idaho Crisis Center at 2195 Ironwood Court in Coeur d’Alene offers free, confidential help for people who are having a mental health crisis or substance abuse problems.
The center is open 24/7. No referral is necessary. Call 208-625-4884.
The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.