GARDEN CITY, Mo. -- He was trusted by many and is part of many holiday memories for families in Garden City, Mo. Because the town population is less than 2,000 people, Garden City Chief of Police Thomas Alber said there's a real possibility 36-year-old Anthony Hall has come into contact with many children in the town.
Officers arrested Hall Monday morning at his job at Auto Zone in Harrisonville. He's charged with child molestation. The victim is a six-year-old girl.
Hall is known for dressing up like Santa Claus around the holidays and can be seen in photos on social media, even in a 2014 Christmas picture on the police department's Facebook page.
Chief Alber said, "People with these tendencies gravitate toward areas where children are accessible and available. They’re tough cases; they’re cases that hit many people right in the heart."
Investigators said when the girl told her mother, she told the victim not to tell and continued living in the same home as Hall. Court documents said both Hall and the victim's mother denied everything at first but changed their stories after they were shown illustrations the girl gave investigators.
Chief Alber said besides the police department, other investigating agencies are involved, like the Missouri Department of Social Services.
He said, "Children go through special interviews with specially trained forensic investigators."
The chief said working the case took months, but Hall's arrest was timely. "Especially being the beginning of November where people would begin to book Christmas parties that might be employing this individual and allowing him access to more children," Alber said.
With four daughters of his own, Chief Alber said he's glad a man facing these types of charges is off the streets.
"When the child’s a victim, it’s especially difficult," Chief Alber said. "We take a great deal of time and care in investigating these cases."
Hall admitted to investigators he's been accused in the past of inappropriate sexual contact with each of his own three children.