Alleged Sexual Predator Who Spent 16 Years on the Run Found Dead by Neighbor

The decomposing body of an elderly man found dead in his home in South Carolina has been identified as that of an alleged sexual predator who had been on the run for more than 16 years.

Frederick Cecil McLean, 70, was wanted by the San Diego Sheriff's Department in California on multiple counts of sexual assault on a child.

He was deemed a high risk for allegedly sexually assaulting young girls and had been on the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted fugitive list since 2006.

McLean's body was found by a concerned neighbor conducting a welfare check at his home in the 200 block of Jennifer Lane, Seneca, South Carolina on November 6. At that point no one had seen or heard from him for several weeks.

After making the discovery of his remains, McLean's neighbor called the authorities. It was only during the subsequent investigation into his death that authorities discovered the truth.

According to a U.S. Marshals Service news release, McLean had allegedly been living under the alias "James Fitzgerald" at the South Carolina home for the past 15 years.

The authorities were able to identify him after a fingerprint was obtained during his autopsy on November 15. This was then compared to the known fingerprints on file for McLean, with fingerprint analysis confirming a positive identification.

The autopsy also confirmed that no foul play was suspected in McLean's death.

An arrest warrant was first issued for McLean back in 2005.

The U.S. Marshals Service said that one of his alleged victims, who is now an adult, reported that McLean assaulted her more than 100 times, starting when she was just 5 and ending about seven years later.

In 2006, after a year on the run, he was added to the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted fugitive list. Despite this, McLean was able to evade capture until his death.

Speaking to WSBTV, Lynn Ellison, whose husband found McLean's remains, said they never suspected anything was amiss about him. "He seemed really nice. That's what's so scary," she said. "We knew Jim. He went by Jim at this time. We didn't know he had any aliases. Talk about being nervous... I'm still nervous. It's kind of eerie."

However, another local resident, mother-of-three Jessika Faulkenberry, told the news outlet about an unsettling conversation she and her husband had with the deceased fugitive.

"He had asked us then if we knew any young boys that wanted to help out—think he was redoing the inside of his home—that could get into tight spaces and whatnot," she said. "My husband and I exchanged an odd glance, like 'Somethings up with this guy.'"

Commenting on the case, U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis thanked the Oconee County Sheriff's Office and Oconee County Coroner's Office for their efforts in helping identify McLean.

"The discovery of Frederick McLean's body marks an end to the manhunt, but the investigation continues," he added.

The U.S. Marshals and local authorities are continuing to investigate the case to determine if McLean received any help to avoid capture. "During his years on the run McLean used numerous aliases and also lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Anderson, South Carolina," U.S. Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California said. "Because of his alleged crimes, we are concerned there may be other victims out there."

Stafford acknowledged that while McLean's death does bring an end to the manhunt, there are mixed feelings about the way it was concluded.

"We wish McLean's fate had been determined by a court of law 15 years ago," he said. "The investigators working on this case never gave up. We hope McLean's death brings some sense of closure for the victims and their families, especially knowing he can never hurt another child."

Wanted fugitive Frederick Cecil McLean.
Wanted fugitive Frederick Cecil McLean. McLean's decomposing body has been found in a South Carolina house. U.S. Marshall's Office