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News

FBI Catches 'Unsolved Mysteries' Fugitive In L.A. After 14 Years On The Lam

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A fugitive accused of molesting two young boys over a decade ago was finally arrested in Los Angeles. Frank Joseph Montenegro, Jr., 52, was arrested on Wednesday in Brooklyn Heights where he lived in a community home by members of the FBI, LAPD and the California department of corrections' parole division after a foot chase and a struggle, according to a release from the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. Investigators were led to Montenegro's whereabouts by a tip the LAPD received, and learned that he had been living under a false name and without a driver's license for the last several years, according to San Jose Mercury News. Montenegro appeared on Northern California's Most Wanted page, and was featured on a 2002 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

Montenegro was charged in 2001 with multiple counts of sodomy of a child under 14 against the victim's will, oral copulation and the continued sexual abuse of a minor. At the time, he taught fifth and sixth grade at Blacow Elementary School within the Fremont Unified School District, where he had worked since 1988, according to SF Gate.

Prior to 1988, he had lived in San Diego where he was also employed as an elementary school teacher, his Unsolved Mysteries segment revealed. That year, his mother died while giving birth and his father was killed in a car crash only a short time later. Montenegro, who was only 24 at the time, moved to Hayward to take care of his five siblings. He was featured in numerous news articles for his dedication to his family, including an AP story where Montenegro's lawyer that that if anyone could handle the responsibility of raising five children, it'd be Frank.

In 2001, Montenegro was accused of molesting two male summer school students, one 10 and one 11. Montenegro allegedly raped the 11-year-old boy four times between 1997 and 2000, and abused the 10-year-old boy numerous times in his classroom during recess. The 10-year-old boy eventually told his mother, who went to the police. According to Unsolved Mysteries, the mother became suspicious when she found underwear she did not buy in her son's drawer.

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Police questioned Montenegro for several hours, then ordered him to return to the station the next day to take a polygraph test. However, Montenegro instead asked a friend to help him rent a car. That car was later found in Las Paz, Mexico and Montenegro would vanish for the next several years.

Though the 11-year-old boy changed his story during the interview with investigators, a Fremont Police Detective Teresa Martinez eventually found other evidence against Montenegro. She learned that another police department had also received a complaint about Montenegro in regards to another boy, and said that Montenegro's brother claimed to have also been sexually assaulted. She also discovered a two-way mirror in Montenegro's classroom that separated two rooms. In one of the rooms, she found found various video equipment.

Geneva Bosques, spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department, told the San Jose Mercury news that, "It's a good ending, it's great to have found him after this time. That someone recognized him and came forward is great for the victims."