Child Porn Caused Closure of New Mexico Observatory

After laptop was seized, janitor warned of 'serial killer'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2018 2:28 AM CDT
The entrance to Sunspot Observatory is blocked near Alamogordo, NM, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.   (Dylan Taylor-Lehman/Alamogordo Daily News via AP)
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(Newser) – After the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico mysteriously closed for 11 days, citing unspecified "security concerns," rumors of alien sightings or other strange cosmic goings-on proliferated. But the real reason was apparently the disturbing behavior of an Earthling janitor, reports the Albuquerque Journal. According to a federal search warrant, the facility in the mountains of Lincoln National Forest was shut down during an FBI child pornography investigation. They began investigating the facility after the observatory's WiFi was used to send and receive child porn and a worker at the facility found a laptop with "not good" images on it, KTSM reports.

Court documents state that after the facility's chief observer told agents that the only person who could access the observatory during the hours that the child porn was downloaded was a janitor, the FBI seized a laptop. The documents state that when he discovered that the laptop was gone, the janitor "feverishly" searched the facility for it and warned the observer that somebody had been breaking in to steal Internet service. The Journal reports that the FBI closed the observatory for security reasons after the janitor warned the observer that a serial killer might "enter the facility and execute someone." The observatory reopened Monday after Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy announced there was no longer a threat to staff. (Read more observatory stories.)

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