Albert Lea detective commended for three-year investigation into sex offender

(ABC 6 News) – Albert Lea Police Detective Julie Lynne Kohl received a medal of commendation for her work in a 3-year case that put registered sex offender Travis Mayer behind bars for life, plus 10 years.

In September of 2018, Kohl received a call from the Albany, Oregon Police Department about Mayer, who resided in Albert Lea.

Mayer, 33 at the time, was posing online as an 18-year-old named "Tyler Cole" and exchanging videos and photos with a 15-year-old girl in Albany. When the victim stopped communication with him, he threatened the girl and her parents. That’s when the parents contacted the Albany Police Department, who called Kohl to verify that "Tyler Cole" was actually Mayer.

Mayer had used the alias in a previous case of child pornography.

After verifying that Mayer was posing as the 18-year-old, Kohl arrested him on probable cause for exploitation of a minor.

She contacted the FBI for help unlocking a cell phone in Mayer’s possession, as well as a phone kept in evidence from his previous arrest in Albert Lea.

The FBI confirmed that Mayer had downloaded child pornography from a Russian website in 2017, and had also convinced the 15-year-old into producing child pornography, which he kept and distributed.

Mayer went to trial in St. Paul in June of 2021, with Kohl testifying. On Jan. 28, 2022, a U.S. District judge sentenced him to life plus 10 years — the longest sentence for an Albert Lea crime in recent history, according to the City of Albert Lea.

“Detective Julie Kohl provided excellent public safety services through her leadership and collaborative partnerships," Albert Lea Public Safety Director J.D. Carlson said. "The investigative outcome comes as no surprise. Detective Kohl’s criminal sexual investigative experience is a valued commodity of the ALPD and our community.”

This is the first commendation medal for Detective Kohl. “It’s the high point of my career,” she says. “I really feel like I’m making a difference."