Child Molester Captured, Visited Family in El Dorado Hills
VANCOUVER — When convicted fugitive Steven Dyer snuck back into California under an assumed name for family gatherings, his nieces and nephews were told he was an international spy so they couldn't tell anyone they'd seen him.
In reality, he was a convicted American child molester who has been hiding out in British Columbia since at least 2004.
Now the 44-year-old is back in jail after being arrested at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport Tuesday by the Canada Border Services Agency after returning from a Venezuelan vacation.
He was scheduled to be handed over to U.S. Marshals in New York Wednesday evening.
CBSA enforcement officer Cindy Lepur headed the Dyer investigation out of Vancouver, which started when U.S. authorities passed along a tip he was living here.
Lepur told the Vancouver Sun that Dyer had taken on the identity of a Canadian and fraudulently obtained his citizenship in 2004.
He even purchased two homes in Vancouver and Chilliwack, B.C., under his assumed identity, Lepur said.
Dyer is believed to have fled the U.S. in January 2002 while awaiting trial on 13 counts of sexual assault of two young boys in Arizona. He was convicted in absentia in April 2002 and faces a sentence of up to 169 years.
Now Canadian authorities are investigating whether Dyer has any victims on this side of the border.
"We are hoping that victims will recognize him and come forward," Lepur said.
"The (photos) online are a very close match to what he looks like currently."
Vancouver Police Const. Lindsey Houghton said the department's Sex Crimes Unit is reviewing any unsolved files to determine if Dyer may fit the suspect profile.
But he said Dyer is "not currently suspected of committing any criminal offences in Vancouver."
He was living downtown, Houghton said, without providing specifics.
Neither Vancouver police nor the CBSA would release the name Dyer has been using in B.C. citing "privacy reasons."
"But while here, he did his best blending into Canadian society as a Canadian citizen," Lepur said.
"He was living throughout the Lower Mainland from Vancouver to Chilliwack. He moved around quite frequently."
She said the CBSA has some leads on where he was working, but would not confirm that information as the investigation is still in its early stages.
"In December of last year, as the result of an intensive investigation and information received from the U.S. Marshalls, we were able to determine that he was here in Vancouver," she said.
Dyer graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and was working as a pharmaceutical sales representative in Scottsdale, Ariz., when he befriended a young neighbour he was convicted of molesting.
He volunteered with Big Brothers at the time and took the boy on camping trips, plying him with alcohol and "grooming" him, according to records of the case.
The father of a second young victim went to police in December 2000, leading to a series of charges.
Dyer was released on a bond after his father, Lowell, put up his house as collateral.
After Dyer vanished, he was featured several times on America's Most Wanted. The program reported that Dyer's family had been stopped returning from Canada, but denied having any knowledge of the pedophile's whereabouts.
U.S. court documents filed in 2008 and obtained by the Vancouver Sun say that before fleeing, Dyer obtained two driver's licences and a passport using the name of his brother Ronald.
He was stopped with that passport crossing into the U.S. from British Columbia in May and August 2007, driving a Lexus owned by his father.
"Information was obtained that Steven Dyer has been present in El Dorado, Hills, Calif., on several occasions over the past several years for holiday parties," the court documents say. "Information was also obtained that Dyer's parents and family advised the children and grandchildren of the family that Steven Dyer was an international spy and not to tell anyone that they saw him in California."
Lepur said she couldn't comment on whether the CBSA was investigating other Dyer family members as possible accomplices.
Not only is Dyer to be sentenced in the U.S. on the sexual assault convictions, he is now also charged with "unlawful flight to avoid prosecution."
And Lepur hinted he might also be facing charges in Canada.
"It is early in the investigation and it is still ongoing and I can't provide specifics on that," she said.
She said CBSA will work closely with other law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate Dyer.
"The removal of inadmissible individuals is key to maintaining the integrity of immigration programs and to ensuring fairness to those who come to this country lawfully," Lepur said.
U.S. Marshal David Gonzales also praised the cross-border co-operation that will see justice for Dyer's victims.
"A dangerous fugitive's run has ended after 10 long years," he said. "By working together, many U.S. Marshals Service personnel were successful in tracking down this child molester."
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