Posted on | July 29, 2014 | 15 Comments
Investigators say they sifted through hundreds of tips in their search for Charles Mozdir, but a phone call they got during CNN’s “The Hunt” with John Walsh helped them crack the case.
On Monday, eight days after the show first aired, the 32-year-old suspected sex offender died in a shootout in New York City as police closed in.
During the show, first broadcast on July 20, a deputy U.S. marshal fielding calls got a tip about Mozdir, accused in a 2012 California child molestation case. . . .
The tip was the first strong lead about his whereabouts investigators had in more than two years, but they didn’t know where he’d gone since.
“It was the newest information we had,” Jurman said. “Our case went cold in 2012. He was definitely living on cash, with a good fake ID. He was off our grid.”
That changed on Monday, when a New York police detective and two U.S. marshals entered the smoke shop in New York City where Mozdir worked.
Mozdir “fired on officers at a very close range,” New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, and “officers returned fire.” The officers were wounded during the shootout, but are expected to recover, authorities said.
Mozdir been sought by authorities since June 2012.. . .
Mozdir had a 32-caliber revolver with 20 spare rounds of ammunition in his pocket at the time of his death, the police commissioner said. . . .
Mozdir was arrested in California in 2012 after the young son of two close friends told his parents that Mozdir had touched his private parts. . . .
“He was on the run for almost two years. And this family was destroyed, terrified that he would come back and hurt them because they had the courage to come forward and file charges against him,” Walsh said Monday.
On the run from authorities, Mozdir had apparently shared with others his plan to one day kill the young boy’s father for turning him in, Walsh said. “And now they don’t have to worry if this guy’s coming back to hurt the family or hurt their little boy. So there’s a big sigh of relief tonight that Charles Mozdir is off this planet.”
After the parents’ report in 2012, investigators in Coronado, California, executed a search warrant on Mozdir’s house and found evidence of child pornography and bestiality on his cell phone and computers, according to U.S. Marshals Service deputy Brian Grimes. . . .
Years ago, watching America’s Most Wanted every Saturday night was kind of a family ritual. What made the show so different from anything on TV was that John Walsh didn’t mince words about the criminal fugitives — the killer or child molester police were looking for was a “creep,” an “animal,” a “monster.” Walsh urged viewers to “help get this bad guy off the streets.” That tradition continues with The Hunt:
On Monday, Walsh described Mozdir’s death as a “tough ending.”
“It really reaffirms my belief that people don’t want to be vigilantes. They want to be involved and do the right thing,” he said.
“This is our first capture. I’m very sorry that those police officers got wounded in the line of duty,” Walsh said, “but this is one more lowlife that’s off the streets.”
That kind of strong language — the moral clarity between good and evil — is something America needs more of. Way to go, John.