As he stared into the camera, Jeremy Meeks’ thoughts were far away – with the wife and children he would soon be forced to leave behind. The shutter then clicked, and his hard stare and set jaw were captured for posterity.
The photographer was a member of the Police Department of Stockton, California, and Meeks was sitting for a mugshot after his arrest. But little did the prisoner know that this routine procedure would change the course of his life forever.
Meeks has spent a large part of his life in and out of trouble with the local law enforcement. In 2002 he was convicted of motor vehicle theft in Solano County, CA and served a two-year state prison stretch.
After that he found himself in Spokane County, Washington, where he was charged with identity theft in 2005. He was also accused of resisting arrest, though this charge was subsequently dropped.
Then, in October 2007, a previous arrest warrant caught up with Meeks, and he was sentenced to 71 days behind bars and told that he had to pay $800 in fines. Charges relating to forgery, negligent driving and driving minus a license also feature on his colorful record.
On June 18, 2014, the 30-year-old Meeks was arrested yet again when police caught him leaving a home they were about to search. When they looked inside his car, they found ammunition and what they suspected was marijuana.
On further investigation, the officers also discovered an unregistered handgun and magazines of ammo in the trunk of his car. It was enough for the police to bring him in.
With his collection of tattoos – some of which are on his face and neck – Meeks to some minds might look the part of your typical thug. He even has the word “Crip” emblazoned on his forearm, suggesting an allegiance to the notoriously violent Los Angeles street gang.
He also has a tattoo of a teardrop underneath his left eye, a symbol that many believe indicates the wearer has committed a murder – although most sources agree that it simply means the individual has served prison time.
Given his track record, Meeks must have been used to the drill as he sat down and prepared for his mugshot with the Stockton Police Department. But when the department uploaded his image to their Facebook page, all hell broke loose.
The processing officer uploaded the image at the same time as three other mugshots, each of them showing suspects captured in the same raid. But while those attracted little attention online, Meeks’ picture was a different story.
Very quickly, people began to notice that Meeks – while a convicted felon – was undeniably a very attractive man. Indeed, by the early hours of June 20, his mugshot had gained over 43,000 likes and more than 4,000 shares on the social networking site.
Flustered women began to overrun the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook page, leaving comments fawning over Meeks’ good looks. Several admirers even offered to contribute to his bail, which was set at $900,000.
Many people commented that, with his chiseled features, Meeks would make an excellent male model. There were even suggestive propositions left on the Facebook page – despite the fact that Meeks is married and has two young children.
Local law enforcement were unimpressed with Meeks’ sudden legion of female fans, taking the opportunity to remind them that he was “one of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area.”
But Meeks’ family welcomed the attention, hoping that it would give him the opportunity for a fair trial. His mother Katherine Angier, who believed her son had been unfairly victimized, even tried to capitalize on his fame by setting up a GoFundMe page to pay for his legal fees.
Obviously not swayed by Meeks’ popularity, however, the judge handed him a 27-month sentence. Yet while he was inside serving his time, he was already preparing to turn his looks into a career.
In early 2015 Meeks announced that he had appointed a manager – Jim Jordan of Los Angeles-based White Cross Management. Moreover, he filled his days behind bars with regular workouts and exercises, getting his body in shape for the day that he was released.
In 2016 Meeks became a free man and was reunited with his family – not to mention his new manager, who is preparing to launch his modeling career. And while so far gigs have been a little thin on the ground, Meeks is holding out hopes that his fame will help him support his wife and young children.
“I’m in a place where I will be able to provide for my family and really change my life,” he told ABC News. “I never thought that everyone in the world would recognize me for my looks, so I feel extremely blessed and very thankful.”