Man Wanted on Child Rape Charges Faked His Death in Kayaking Accident, Sheriff Says

Missing Kayaker
Melvin Emde was arrested Sunday, authorities said.St. Charles Parish, La., Sheriff's Office

Melvin Emde was reported missing last month after supposedly falling overboard from his kayak, authorities said. He was arrested Sunday after he allegedly faked his death to avoid child rape charges, a sheriff said.

Melvin Emde was reported missing to Louisiana's St. Charles Parish on August 7. But the 41-year-old man wasn't really missing, the sheriff now says.

Emde had faked his own death to avoid child rape charges in North Carolina and was arrested Sunday in Georgia after leading a state trooper on a motorcycle chase, authorities said.

In a case with several strange twists, Emde is now awaiting extradition to North Carolina, where he was charged last year with felony counts of indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child.

He was out on bond, and wearing an ankle monitoring device, when his son reported him missing, telling Louisiana authorities his dad had become ill during a kayak trip and had fallen overboard, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said Monday in a statement.

The father and son had been fishing in the Mississippi River near Hahnville, Louisiana, around midnight when Emde fell in the water and disappeared, his son reported, according to Champagne.

The next day, Champagne's detectives learned that Emde was wanted in North Carolina and was supposed to have appeared in court that day, the sheriff said.

"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," Champagne said.

"However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off," the sheriff said.

Thus began a weeks-long investigation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, the sheriff said.

Champagne's investigators spoke with North Carolina authorities and learned that Emde, on the day he was reported missing, was actually in a Walmart buying prepaid cellphones, the sheriff said.

That determination came from a GPS ankle monitor Emde was ordered to wear as a condition of his bail, Champagne said.

Authorities were able to track the phones, but the trail ran dry after Emde stopped using them, authorities said.

Fast-forward to Sunday, when a Georgia State Highway Patrol officer tried to pull over a motorcycle at about 3:30 a.m. because it had no license plate, Champagne said.

The motorcycle rider sped off, with the state trooper in pursuit, Champagne said, and later crashed.

The rider then tried to run on foot, but was captured, authorities said. He initially gave a false name, but after being fingerprinted, he was identified as Emde, according to Champagne.

Emde and his son may face charges in St. Charles Parish for filing false reports, Champagne said.

"It was a pretty good hoax they put together," Champagne told Inside Edition Digital Tuesday. "But it didn't hold up."

For now, "it’s time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Carolina," the Louisiana sheriff said.

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