A 76-year old fugitive who federal agents named ‘Mr Wonder’ has been arrested in California, according to reports on Jan 31, 2016.
Frank Szeles had disappeared decades previous after a string of allegations surrounding child abuse.
Mr Szeles had been a Cub Scouts leader until recently and hosted a popular 1970s kid’s TV show. He had evaded capture for an incredible 37 years.
The allegations of abuse stem from a camping retreat in Louisiana in the 1970s.
Police then secured a warrant for his arrest, but the suspect allegedly fled to Brazil.
Investigating officers believed Szeles changed his name from Selas upon his return to America in the 1980s.
It’s alleged he moved through many locations, including Connecticut, Chicago, South Royalton, Vermont and Sheffield, Massachusetts before settling in California.
Facing the judge in San Diego last week, the man in custody point-blank denied being the same Frank John Selas III named in the original Louisiana warrant.
Investigators from the Rapide Parish sheriff’s office are convinced they have the right man.
San Diego supervisory deputy, US Marshal Steve Jurman, said of Szeles: “If there’s a playbook for pedophiles, he checked off every single box…It’s shocking the level of access that this guy had to children, even now.”
No further allegations of abuse have surfaced since the 1970s, but investigators point to patterns of behaviour they see as concerning.
Mr Szeles had served as a Cub Scout leader in Bonita, California some years prior, but was removed by the Scouts organisation for failing to fulfil responsibilities in “youth protection policies and procedures.”
A company named Szeles Enterprises – which investigators believe belonged to the suspect – ran swimming trips, outings and camps for Cub Scouts.
Szeles developed his on-screen persona “Mr Wonder” as part of the KNOE-TV network in 1970s Louisiana.
Having failed as a news anchor, his kids’ creation was a hit, going from weekly to daily broadcasts, with Szeles appearing at local schools and acting as a judge in kids’ contests.
Defense attorney Marc Carlos spoke on behalf of the suspect’s family on Wednesday, who described him as a “well-loved, respected and supported by his family and friends and the community here in San Diego.”