FBI: Sex fugitive captured in Livingston Parish

Published 12:24 am Sunday, February 25, 2007

A fugitive child molester, on the run for nearly a year, was captured Thursday at an auto auction business where he’d been working for most of the month, federal authorities said.

David John Sprong Jr., 47, a convicted felon and registered sex offender, is wanted in California on a variety of molestation charges involving young girls.

Authorities previously thought Sprong was living under an alias near Houston. Then his last known vehicle, a 1997 sport utility vehicle, was found at a bar on Monday in Hammond, said Brian Fair, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

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The FBI said shortly before word of Strong’s arrest in Louisiana that he may have contacts in the Jackson, Miss., area and could be heading to Mississippi. Agents said Strong had traveled to the Jackson area in the past and had talked often about returning.

Last spring, Sprong skipped a $1 million bond in Sacramento, where he was charged with molesting girls. He could have been sentenced to life in prison if found guilty of being a habitual sex offender with multiple victims.

The marshals’ Crescent Star Fugitive Task Force, with help from the FBI and the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Sprong at A to Z Auto Auction L.L.C in Holden, La., without incident, Fair said.

Sprong was working as a mechanic there under the alias of Thomas Turner and had been employed for about three weeks. He was booked into the Livingston Parish jail and will await extradition back to Sacramento, Fair said.

“When he’s not molesting people, he’s working on cars,” said Mike Raifield, an agent with the FBI’s Sacramento field office which was coordinating the search.

The FBI was also looking to Sprong’s longtime girlfriend Lynn Rodaer and 10-year-old daughter Justine. Authorities said Sprong led them to his family after his capture.

On Saturday, Sprong was featured on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” for the third time.

“When he leaves, he disappears completely,” Raifield said. “He never re-contacted anyone he knew in Sacramento. And, everybody we talked to disliked him. All his contacts, he owed money to. He burned every bridge.

“We do all the angles and find nothing for a long time. Then after the America’s Most Wanted segment profiled him in January, we got a tip he was running an auto shop in Humble, Texas, but it came two days too late. Apparently he saw the same program and he disappeared.”

Oprah Winfrey included Sprong on her list of child sexual predators. She said she would give a $100,000 reward for information leading to their arrests.

In addition to the charges in California, Raifield said Sprong may face charges of attempted molestation of two teen-aged girls who worked for him in Houston.