An Oklahoma man is behind bars after police say he faked his own death in a bogus kayaking accident as part of a failed attempt to avoid child rape charges in North Carolina.
Melvin Emde was arrested during a traffic stop in Georgia on Sunday — nearly 500 miles east of a Louisiana stretch of the Mississippi River where he was reported drowned in a kayaking accident more than a month ago.
Emde’s son had called police on August 7 to report his father had gone overboard and drowned on the river near Hahnville, police said.
Investigators, however, said they quickly suspected something was amiss after learning the 41-year-old was due in court the next day to face charges of statutory rape and indecent liberties with a child.
“We immediately became quite suspicious that this may have been a faked accidental drowning and death in order for Mr. Emde to escape charges in Brunswick County, North Carolina,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said.
“However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off.”
Going along with the ruse, police sent teams to search the river near Hahnville while news outlets covered the effort.
After learning Emde had been wearing an ankle monitor as part of his bail conditions police were able to determine he’d visited a Walmart hours before his reported drowning, where he bought a pair of prepaid phones.
Police worked with the United States Marshals Service to track the phones, and learned Emde had been using one discretely by only turning it on for short periods of time.
After first trying to find Emde near his home in Talihina, Oklahoma, he was finally captured during a 3:30 a.m. traffic stop in Georgia.
Cops had pulled over a man riding a motorcycle without a license plate, who eventually fled before crashing and then trying to run on foot.
He gave a false name after being taken into custody but was identified as Emde once he was fingerprinted.
“Now it’s time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Carolina,” Sheriff Champagne said.
|Read More Latest Crime News From United States & European Countries|