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Officials Say Man May Have Exposed 40 Children To AIDS

August 5, 1987

MARLIN, Texas (AP) _ A suspected child molester, who allegedly met his victims while he sold insurance to their parents, may have exposed as many as 40 children to AIDS, authorities said.

Jimmy G. Ethridge, 38, of Marlin, discovered dead in his bedroom with a bullet to his head, was found in an autopsy to have carried the AIDS virus, Debra Coca, a Falls County juvenile probation officer, said Tuesday.

She said anyone with whom Ethridge had sexual relations has a chance of contracting aquired immune deficiency syndrome, an incurable disease that weakens the body’s ability to fight germs.

Authorities said they believe Ethridge was killed by a 16-year-old boy, who apparently was living with him, but there was not enough evidence to prosecute him for the death.

Meanwhile, in San Antonio, an Army soldier stationed at Fort Sam Houston is being court-martialed after allegedly exposing several women to the AIDS virus, an Army official said.

No date has been set for the court-martial for Sgt. Richard Sargeant, a former medical instructor at the post’s Academy of Health Sciences, said an Army official who would not be identified by name.

Sargeant, 27, faces charges of sodomy, aggravated assault, adultery, reckless endangerment and disobeying an officer, the offical said Tuesday. The charges involve three women. The official said he could not discuss details.

Sargeant has not been confined to quarters or incarcerated, but he has been placed on restricted basis.

In the Marlin case, authorities said they are warning children listed in Ethridge’s computer records that the man may have exposed them to the AIDS virus through sexual contact.

The children were mostly boys ages 13 to 16, although some were as young as 7, Ms. Coca said.

Ms. Coca said she plans to send letters telling the children about the case and advising them to seek medical care.

During the investigation, police found enlarged photographs of nude children and computer files containing information about them, Ms. Coca said.

The addresses and names of the 40 children were discovered after the computer code was broken Tuesday, Ms. Coca said.

Ethridge met children while he was selling insurance to their parents and developed friendships with them, Ms. Coca said.

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