DETROIT (WJBK) - Police in Detroit and the metro area are searching for more possible victims of a man they say raped a 5-year-old girl in his care.
Michael Pankey, AKA Michael Leverette, was arraigned and charged Friday morning with sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl and producing child pornography. According to police, Pankey worked at several daycare locations in the suburbs and believe there are other victims.
The 37-year-old accused pedophile is now in federal custody due to the child pornography charges. He was also arraigned back in May on six counts of criminal sexual conduct, one count of indecent exposure and three counts of possession of sexually explicit material, for allegedly raping a 5-year-old he was babysitting in December at his home on Sorrento Street on Detroit's west side.
The investigation led police to the suspect's alarming past -- recently working at four daycares in the suburbs: one in Sterling Heights, one in Rochester, and two in Troy. Police say Pankey would work at one for a few months, then move to another.
Neighbors say Pankey is a normal neighbor and didn't assume anything of him.
"I couldn't believe that someone was living next door to my daughter, and she's 8-years-old. By me speaking to him sometimes, I never thought he was that type of person," an anonymous neighbor said.
"It was strange, more like, socially awkward, but I never knew it was that bad," Karon Journey said.
Pankey has a degree in early childhood education from Macomb Community College. While studying there, he worked at Little Munchkins in Sterling Heights (Oct. 2015-Dec.2016), Gurukul Montessori Academy (Jan. 2016-Sept. 2016), Oakland University's Lowrey Day Daycare Center (Sept. 2016 - Dec. 2016), and North Hills Child Care Center in Troy (Dec. 2016).
Detroit police have identified several potential victims, and they worry there could be more who were inappropriately touched.
The listed daycares are cooperating with authorities and are reaching out to all parents who may have come in contact with Pankey. Neighbors, who say he occasionally babysat other children, are still reeling.
"He seemed kinda weird acting to me. Never seen anybody come over and visit, kept pretty much to himself and I just thought that was odd," the anonymous neighbor said.
They say Pankey lived at the home with his grandfather who passed away in April 2016. It was soon after that they noticed several packages coming to the address almost everyday, filled with children's toys like dominos and Lego's.
It was that December when police say at least one little girl was raped and recorded.
"It's unfortunate the parents and the people involved have to go through this. For me it just comes down to one word. Creepy," said his neighbor Darius.
Detroit investigators are asking anyone with an incident to report to call their local police.