A man who attempted to fake his own death in a kayaking accident was attempting to avoid a child rape charge, according to authorities in Louisiana.
Melvin Emde, 41, was taken into custody Sunday following a police chase in Georgia that ended in a motorcycle crash.
Emde's Son Claimed He Fell Out of a Kayak While Fishing
At the time, cops were unaware that the suspect had been reported missing since Aug. 7, after his son claimed he had fallen out of a kayak while fishing in the Mississippi River. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said that they had searched for Emde's body for two days, using divers, sonar and a drone, but never recovered a body.
"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 in a press release.
"However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off," he added. At this point, Emde's son, who made the false phone call, has not been charged, said Amanda Pertuis, the public information officer for Champagne.
Emde Gave Fake Name to Cops, was Identified via Fingerprints
Emde, originally from Talihina, Okla., was facing charges of "indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child" in North Carolina at the time of his disappearance. Before the reported drowning, detectives learned that he had purchased two prepaid cellphones in Boutte, Louisiana.
Authorities in North Carolina worked with detectives and the U.S. Marshals Service to track the phones, but were unable as Emde only used one for a brief period of time.
Champagne said they eventually detained Emde after Georgia Highway Patrol attempted to pull over a motorcycle that was missing a license plate. The motorcycle crashed and the driver began to run away but was ultimately apprehended.
After the man gave a fake name to police, they were able to identify him as Emde through his fingerprints, authorities said. This investigation is ongoing.