Police are using snaps of a male model to hunt a possible catfishing killer – and never told the owner of the stolen pictures.
On Monday, Indiana State Police made an unusual appeal to the public, posting several pictures of a male model whose pictures they believe were used to lure two young teen girls to their deaths.
They stipulated in a release that the man pictured, whom they described as a "known male model", was not a person of interest in the case. But despite knowing who he was, they never let him know his photographs were about to be used in a murder investigation.
TooFab spoke to the model – who ironically enough is now a police officer himself – and he is not happy.
The unsolved homicide case involves the 2017 murders of 14-year-old Liberty German and 13-year-old Abigail Williams, whose bodies were discovered on Valentine's Day off a hiking trail near Monon High Bridge just outside their hometown of Delphi – one day after they vanished while walking the trail.
During the initial investigation, police released two grainy photos of a suspect walking on the abandoned railroad bridge, as well as sketches based on a video taken from German's cellphone. But nobody was ever arrested.
Then on Monday, almost five years after the murders, Indiana police claimed they had uncovered an online profile they believe may be connected to the case, named anthony_shots.
"This profile was being used from 2016 to 2017 on social media applications, including but not limited to, Snapchat and Instagram," they said in a release. "The fictitious anthony_shots profile used images of a known male model and portrayed himself as being extremely wealthy and owning numerous sports cars."
"The creator of the fictitious profile used this information while communicating with juvenile females to solicit nude images, obtain their addresses, and attempt to meet them. Pictured below, you'll see images of the known male model and images the fictitious anthony_shots profile sent to underage females."
Included with the release were seven selfies taken by the model, as well as a number of screengrabs posted by the account, including photos of a garage filled with luxury sports cars, and an online shopping baskets from Gucci and Louis Vuitton filled with thousands of dollars of designer wear.
"We have already identified the male in these images that were used by the anthony_shots profile. The male that is in the photos is not a person of interest in the investigation," police insisted. "Detectives are seeking information about the person who created the anthony_shots profile."
They appealed for anyone who met, attempted to meet or had any online communication with anthony_shots to contact their tipline immediately.
What police didn't do, however, was contact the model in the pictures himself, to let him know they were about to use his images as part of a murder investigation.
The former model, Vincent Kowalski, is now a police officer in Alaska.
"Someone sent me a screenshot of the YouTube video they did… I was like 'There's no way that's real," he told us. "I was completely blown away."
Officer Kowalski said his images have been used for years by catfishers; "Grindr, Kik, all of the dating websites. People use them trying to message girls," he said.
He said he has contacted Instagram many times, but is merely told to block them. "They never get taken down," he said.
Indeed, on his own Instagram account, Kowalski has warned people that he is not on any dating sites, and that he doesn't accept friend requests from people he doesn't know.
"If you think you have been talking to me through DMs you aren't. You are talking to a fake," he advised in one 2019 Insta post.
Despite being the most obvious person in the world to ask about his own pictures being catfished, Kowalski told TooFab that none of his police colleagues from Indiana ever reached out.
Now, thanks to tens of thousands of views and shares of the police release, he is now worried for his family's safety.
"A lot of the headlines are somewhat vague," he said. "When you google it my picture is the first thing you see. My face is blasted everywhere. People might think I had something to do with it."
"I spoke to my wife about it… I just hope nobody crazy tries to contact my family."
Kowalski, who has been on the force for four years, says he has no idea why Indiana police never gave him a heads up, or at least reached out for possible information on past catfishers.
"You would think so," he said.
He said he even reached out to the tipline himself – but never heard back.
TooFab asked Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Jeremy Piers if the "known male model" was made aware his pictures were being used as part of a murder investigation, but was told no further information was being released.
When asked if they had requested permission to use the pictures, he said they had "already been posted on social media," so they didn't need to.