The families of several Rutherford County teenagers were struggling Wednesday with the unknown. Detectives said a 36-year-old man raped at least two boys and exposed them to HIV.
The suspect remained at the Rutherford County jail. He’s unemployed and lives in Murfreesboro with his parents. Police said he seduced children and risked their lives.
Detectives said the relationship between 36-year-old Michael McElderry and the 15-year-old victim may have started innocently enough.
“The victim was a child of a friend of his. I think it was kind of a befriending, big brother-type relationship initially that obviously ended up differently,” Detective Todd Sparks said.
McElderry ended up in jail after the victim’s mother walked in on him with her son.
Four counts of statutory rape weren’t the only charges keeping him here.
“He’s also charged with criminal exposure to HIV. He’s HIV positive,” Sparks said.
Investigators said McElderry knew he was HIV positive but never told the teenager. Sparks had to break the news to the victim and his mother.
“I’m sure it was a lot harder on the receiving end than it was on my end,” Sparks said.
Detectives looked into his past Wednesday afternoon found a second victim. They’re concerned there may be more.
“My main concern at this point is their health. I want to make sure that anybody who may have had any type of contact with him, gets checked out and taken care of,” Sparks said.
Joseph Interrant with Nashville Cares said the young victims should find medical and mental help, but the perpetrator shouldn’t count on finding forgiveness.
“I have zero tolerance for anybody who willfully puts somebody else at risk… for getting infected. There’s no excuse,” he said.
Mickleberry faces an August court date.
Tests can’t detect immediately whether someone has contracted HIV; that takes three to six months.