Remember the story from last year about the music teacher accused of possibly giving semen-filled flutes to students in Fountain Valley, the Fullerton, Newport-Mesa and Capistrano Unified school districts as well as elsewhere in Southern California?
It was an apparent crime so heinous that the Weekly had dual reports Oct. 2 on our news and music blogs, and the then-unidentified suspect made our pre-Halloween list of Orange County’s 31 Scariest People.
Federal authorities since released the name of John Edward Zeretzke.
However, without mentioning the flute incidents, the U.S. Department of Justice has revealed that the 60-year-old Ventura resident was arrested Thursday for allegedly coercing a young girl to produce child pornography, attempting to entice another victim to send him sexually explicit images, traveling to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with children, and receiving child pornography over the Internet. Twice!
The Philippines is key because part of Zeretzke’s Flutes Across the World program involved having each of his Southern California students make two homemade flutes, one they would keep for themselves and the other they would donate to students in the island nation.
Parents of those same students in Orange and Los Angeles counties received letters from their children’s schools last year warning that Zeretzke may have inserted man juice into their flutes.
For instance, the Capo Unified letter stated, “As part of this [Flutes Across the World] program, students may have received a flute made of PVC plastic piping and a single wine cork that they could decorate. Today, we further consulted with law enforcement and were advised that these flutes may have been inappropriately contaminated with the suspect’s bodily fluid. In an abundance of caution, we are asking all families who may have had children participate in this type of program either at school or within the community to remove these flutes from your child’s possession and place them in a sealed paper bag.”
It is unclear if Zeretzke still faces charges for the SoCal flute fouling. However, if convicted of the counts announced Thursday, he could get up to 15 years in the federal pen.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.