This Alleged Child Molester Plotted His Escape for His Entire Life. Can the U.S. Marshals Catch Him?

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
July 15 2013 1:52 PM

This Alleged Child Molester Plotted His Escape for His Entire Life. Can the U.S. Marshals Catch Him?

mclean_enhanced
An "enhanced" picture of Frederick McLean

U.S. Marshals Service

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Wanted for: Multiple counts of sexual assault on a child

Year he was added to the U.S. Marshals Most Wanted List: 2006

The circumstances: Frederick McLean was a Jehovah’s Witness, a high-ranking member of the religion that likes to send missionaries on door-to-door proselytizing excursions. But according to the U.S. marshals, you wouldn’t really want to answer the door if McLean came calling. The marshals allege that the Southern California man was also a child molester who used his church standing to prey on young people. He was allegedly active for over 25 years, molesting one girl more than 100 times.

His family learned his secret before the cops did, and they confronted him in May 2004. Not only did McLean allegedly confess to his family, he also told them that he’d been preparing for his escape his entire life. And, indeed, McLean had socked away at least $100,000 in cash, which he grabbed before he disappeared in September 2004, four months before an arrest warrant was issued. He hasn’t been seen since, and authorities say he “may have assumed a new identity and could be using an alias name,” and, also, that he might have shaved his mustache.

His likely whereabouts: He might be in Canada, he might still be in California. Opinions differ. McLean used to enjoy wilderness camping, so there’s a chance he’s somewhere far out in the underbrush. He also has a keen interest in classic cars, so maybe he’s been hanging around body shops or car shows? Pay attention, North Americans: If a creepy stranger wearing a CamelBak comes up to compliment your Can-Am race car and inquire about your daughter, please call the police.

Prospects of catching him: McLean seems like he was pretty well prepared for life on the run. He’s got cash and camping knowhow. Plus, as a U.S. marshals press release put it, McLean is “financially frugal, meticulous, [and] organized,” so he’ll be able to make that money last for a while. Still, no matter how cheap you are, $100,000 won’t last forever. That money will be gone soon, if it isn’t already, and when it’s gone, he might show himself.

Most Wanted Score: I’m going to give Frederick McLean a pretty high score. His alleged crime is horrible, and his advance getaway planning is devious. Plus, the fact that he may have shaved his mustache suggests that he is also a master of disguise. This guy deserves his spot on the marshals’ list, without a doubt. 8.5 out of 10 for Frederick McLean.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.