JOINT PRESS RELEASE OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, TALLAPOOSA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT AND UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
TALLAPOOSA COUNTY MAN APPREHENDED IN COSTA RICA ON OUTSTANDING FEDERAL UNLAWFUL FLIGHT TO AVOID PROSECUTION WARRANT
Jimmy Abbett, Sheriff of Tallapoosa County, E. Paul Jones, District Attorney of the 5th Judicial Circuit, Leura G. Canary, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Michael Gavin, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent of the Montgomery FBI Office, announce the apprehension of Walter Edward Myer, formerly of Alexander City, Alabama. On Monday, November 21, 2005, Walter Edward Myer was arrested in Costa Rica by Costa Rican Immigration authorities.
On February 21, 1996, Walter Edward Myer was indicted by a Grand Jury in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, on 114 counts of sexual abuse (of a minor); five counts of sodomy (of a minor), and one count of production of obscene material depicting minors engaged in sexual acts. At that time, Myer was a teacher at the Lyman Ward Military Academy in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. The FBI became involved when Myer failed to appear for a hearing associated with the allegations of sexual abuse. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP) in the Middle District of Alabama on January 14, 1997, by United States Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker.
Myer was located as a direct result of publicity by The Oprah Winfrey Show on October 4 and 11, 2005, concerning his case and fugitive status. At the time of his arrest, Myer was working at a local university in Costa Rica teaching English and was in possession of false Costa Rican identity documents. Preliminary investigation indicates that Myer has lived in Costa Rica since 1998. The FBI Legal Attache assigned to Costa Rica is coordinating the efforts of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), Regional Security Officer (RSO) and Panamanian authorities to deport Myer to the Middle District of Alabama for adjudication on the substantive charges that led to the issuance of the UFAP warrant.
Apprehension of this dangerous fugitive would not have been possible without the publicity generated by The Oprah Winfrey Show and the cooperation and outstanding investigative effort of the Diplomatic Security Service and Costa Rican law enforcement authorities. Arrangements for Myer's deportation are still ongoing.
E. Paul Jones, District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, stated, "I commend FBI Agent Margaret Faulkner, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett and Costa Rican authorities for locating this fugitive so we will be able to prosecute him for these heinous crimes. I especially thank Oprah Winfrey for focusing attention on the elusive individuals who have escaped justice for so long."
The Tallapoosa County Sheriff's office participated in the initial investigation alleging the sexual abuse of students attending the Lyman Ward Military Academy in Camp Hill, Alabama. The 1996 indictment of Myer resulted from this investigation.
Since Myer's indictments by the Grand Jury in 1996, law enforcement agencies including the Tallapoosa County Sheriff's Office, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI have spent numerous hours pursuing leads in an effort to locate Myer.
Sheriff Jimmy Abbett stated, "I would like to commend the efforts of Lt. Bill Hough with our department and FBI Agent Margaret Faulkner in following all leads that ended in the apprehension of Myer. I appreciate the working relationship that our department has with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Alabama in providing valuable assistance to local law enforcement agencies. Without their assistance, this arrest would not have been possible."
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