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Accused California child molester nabbed in Guatemala after 18 years on the run

Policia Nacional Civil / Reuters

Jeffrey Reed Parish, center, "appeared to know why he was being arrested" after 18 years on the run, according to the FBI.

LOS ANGELES - A California man who spent 18 years on the run from charges that he molested a four-year-old girl has been arrested in Guatemala and returned to the United States for prosecution, authorities said Tuesday. 

Jeffrey Reed Parish, 65, was taken into custody by Guatemalan police without incident on Thursday at his home in Panajachel, about 90 miles from Guatemala City, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. 


Eimiller said the fugitive, who was living under the assumed name "Blake," did not resist and "appeared to know why he was being arrested." 

 

He was deported back to the United States on Saturday, accompanied by an FBI agent and a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's sergeant, she said. 

Parish had been scheduled for trial in Santa Barbara Municipal Court in March 1994 when he vanished. Officials believe that Parish may have molested other victims before his initial arrest, according to NBC station KSBY.

U.S. detectives looked at Parish's file in 2011 as part of a routine effort to solve cold cases, according to the LA Times. They sent out an "age-enhanced" picture based on a mug shot taken in 1994, the newspaper reported. 

Investigators were assisted by the FBI's legal attache in San Salvador and the Transnational Anti-Gang unit of the Guatemalan National Police. 

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FBI Special Agent Ingerd Sotelo, who with a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's detective was credited with finding Parish, said the wanted man told her he had initially fled to Mexico but spent most of the past 18 years in Panajachel. 

'He was just Blake'
Sotelo told Reuters that Parish traveled there after hearing that the small, picturesque town on the shores of Lake Atitlan was home to a large contingent of Westerners and had eked out a living by doing gardening work. 

"Nobody there knew whether it was first name or last," Det. Ted Toedte of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department told the LA Times. "He was just Blake."

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Others may be charged on suspicion of helping Parish to remain at large, Toedte added.

Parish, who was accused of molesting a four-year-old girl in the beachside community of Carpenteria, near Santa Barbara, was expected to be prosecuted on the original charges of lewd acts on a child and oral copulation. 

It was not immediately clear if Parish had retained a lawyer in California. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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