Investigators are describing a Massachusetts man wanted on child rape charges as a "violent fugitive" and believe he has fled from the New Bedford area with his two children, who are considered endangered.
According to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office, 46-year-old Leon Mejia-Vicente fled after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He faces multiple counts of rape and sexual abuse of a child in connection with an incident last September.
Mejia-Vicente, a citizen of Guatemala, was living on Madeira Avenue with his 17-year-old daughter and his 5-year-old son when the warrant was issued one June 8, prosecutors said. Investigators said his daughter went to her first-period class on Tuesday, then left school and visited several locations in New Bedford.
"They are on the hunt for this defendant and every available means is being brought to bear to locate him," Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said.
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Mejia-Vicente and his two children have not been seen or heard from since. None of the three speak English. Investigators believe the suspect has strong ties to Guatemala.
"The longer time goes by it just be more concerning that, you know, the children could be in jeopardy," Quinn said.
The children are considered endangered, authorities said.
"38 I will not encourage anybody to confront this individual," Quinn added, "He's fleeing dangerous charges. Again, you don't know what his state of mind is or whether he's armed or not, but we're certainly presuming that he's dangerous. And it’s critical to try to find him as soon as possible."
Anyone with information is asked to call the Massachusetts State Police 24-hour fugitive line at 800-527-8873 or the New Bedford Police Department at 508-971-8569.