State officials have expanded an investigation into nude photos of North Carolina high school students showing up on social media and a new search warrant uncovered by WBTV shows some of the victims were in Rowan County.
The investigation began in Wake County earlier this month when a woman called police to tell them that her daughter had learned that someone had posted nude photos of her on Twitter and Instagram.
A statement from the State Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday said the agency is now looking into similar instances in Chatham, Johnston, Edgecombe, Craven, Randolph and Surry counties.
Investigations were already under way in Wake, Durham and Pitt counties.
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According to a search warrant filed in Rowan County, officers with the Landis Police began to investigate on February 14 after being informed about an Instagram account called "rowancountyhoes" posting sexually explicit photos of underage girls.
The account had nine photos of girls who appeared to be under the age of 18, according to the warrant.
Captions on the photos indicated the images were of girls from Kannapolis Middle, Carson High, South Rowan High, East Rowan High and West Rowan High schools.
One image that was slated as a freshman from Carson High School showed an "unclothed female genitalia," according to the warrant.
According to the warrant, the other eight images on the account were sexually suggestive photos of partially or "scantily clothed females."
The account asked users to submit photos of girls or guys that "you wanna put on blast."
Student from high schools in Rowan County said they saw screen shots of the page.
A South Rowan High School freshman told WBTV "I just saw the page."
Another student said "the description of it - like it said if you want to call anybody out - can send in photos or anything."
During the investigation, officers came across two additional Instagram accounts with similar topics, "rowan_county_hoes" and "rowancountywhores."
Investigators were able to gain access to an Instagram account that already had access to the second account, "rowan_county_hoes."
The second account had images of five females and one male.
Investigators noted that one of the photos on the second account appeared to be identical to one of the photos on the initial account.
According to the warrant, the third account "rowancountywhores" was set to private but investigators were able to see a photo of a young woman bent over and wearing a thong with a young male in the foreground giving a thumbs up.
Investigators say they submitted data preservation requests for all three accounts, which makes a digital copy of all files associated with the account as evidence.
According to the search warrant, investigators believe the accounts were used to collect and disseminate sexually explicit photos without consent of the subjects.
An investigator we spoke with said he believes laws were broken such a sexual exploitation of a minor and cyber bullying.
A high school student said "I didn't like it at all. You have to be a really bad person to make that - if you want to ruin somebody's life like that."
Investigators have subpoenaed Facebook, which owns Instagram, to gain access to the photographic evidence and information about the account creators, including IP address information.
The warrant also seeks any private messages sent to any of the three accounts.
All three accounts have been since shut down and are not available online.
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