Task force commander Tony Keffer had hoped a convicted sexual predator is still in the area. But it sounds like the felon has fled Ohio.
State authorities are seeking the public's assistant in locating former Norwalk resident Jesus S. Villarreal. Classified as a sexual predator, the 54-year-old man is required to register his address every 90 days for the rest of his life.
Villarreal was convicted of two counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance after a September 2000 trial that lasted two days in Huron County Common Pleas Court. The jury returned with the guilty verdicts after deliberating for 50 minutes.
The defendant, who served five years in prison, hasn't registered his address since April 21, 2011, according to authorities.
"We went to the Norwalk area and he just vanished," said Keffer, task force commander with the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force.
During an interview after the Reflector published its original story about Villarreal this week, Keffer said, "I don't know if he's still living in the area."
It was a different story Friday.
"We believe he has fled the state. I believe he's in Texas now," Keffer said.
Villarreal was born in the Lone Star State. Keffer said the defendant lived in Bonita Springs, Fla. from about 1990 through 2000.
"He then came up here in Norwalk and bounced around," the task force commander said.
"He's had several addresses," said Keffer, mentioning Villarreal lived on Newton Street, Cline Street and finally Jefferson Street.
The local crime happened June 19, 2000. Villarreal took photographs of at least two girls who were 12 or 13 at a Norwalk photography studio.
"He thought he was quite artsy. ... He's kinda despicable," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
The Huron County Sheriff's Office issued a warrant for Villarreal's arrest Sept. 8, 2011. He is charged with failure to provide a change of address.
Keffer was asked if authorities will have Villarreal extradited from Texas if he's arrested there. He said he's researching that and noted there are funds for a possible extradition to Ohio.
"Right now the warrant is (only) state-wide," Keffer said.
Sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Schaffer oversees registration for the county sex offenders. She said she hasn't seen that Villarreal has grown or shaved any facial hair, cut his hair or let it grow over the years.
Villarreal is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 270 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair.
"He's extremely obese. ... I don't think he's violent," Leffler said.
Villarreal has scars on the bend of his left elbow and another on his left bicep from a gunshot wound. A tattoo in his right calf illustrates a "Nightmare Demon."
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Villarreal is encouraged to call the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation toll-free at (855) BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446), the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at (866)4-WANTED (866-492-6833) or use the text tipline, TIP411, using the keyword "wanted."