A man accused of raping a child and faking his own death on the same day he was due in court has been arrested. Authorities said that Melvin Phillip Emde, 41, was reported missing on August 7 by his son following a kayaking accident in the Mississippi River near Hahnville, Louisiana.
While Emde's son said his father drowned, police were unable to find his body after searching the river and surrounding area. Authorities had a feeling that Emde faked his death, noting that he was wearing an ankle monitor at the time. The ankle monitor showed Emde was at a Walmart in Boutte, where he purchased two pre-paid cell phones.
"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. However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off," St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said in a press release.
Local officials worked with the U.S. Marshalls Service to track the two phones, but Emde rarely used them, and the trial went cold.
However, on September 17, a Georgia State Trooper pulled over a man riding a motorcycle without a license plate. The driver gave a fake name to the officer, but his true identity was revealed when he was fingerprinted during his arrest.
Officials are working to extradite Emde back to North Carolina to face charges of indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child.