A nearly yearlong manhunt for an accused child molester from Merced ended in Fresno on Thursday when he was captured by U.S. Marshals.
Lonnie Lee Poslof Jr. was taken back to Merced County by Merced Police Department detectives a few hours after his arrest, Capt. Tom Trindad said.
He was booked into the Merced County Jail on a $1.6 million warrant charging him with five felony counts of child molestation.
Poslof, 33, has been a fugitive since last summer when he was first formally accused of sexually assaulting at least five children: a 12-year-old and four children under the age of 5. The alleged abuse happened between 2007 and 2013, according to detectives.
A woman who is the grandmother of an alleged victim praised the work of the Merced Police Department and Detective Raquel Rios, the lead investigator in the case. The grandmother’s name is being withheld to protect the alleged victim’s identity.
“I always had all the faith in the world that Detective Rios would never give up until he (Poslof) was behind bars,” she said. “I think she and everyone else always did everything possible; my hat’s off to them.”
Trindad also praised Rios, calling her detective work “tenacious” and “outstanding.”
Rios said Thursday she was pleased with the arrest and grateful for the help from other law enforcement agencies. “Hopefully this will lead to the families of these children having some peace,” Rios said.
Relatives of some of the alleged victims pitched in earlier this year to double the reward to $2,000 for information leading to Poslof’s arrest.
Police said Poslof targeted and became romantically involved with single mothers who have young children, specifically pursuing such relationships with the intent of abusing the young children.
Poslof is known to law enforcement in Merced County through an arrest in connection with a felony domestic violence case in 2006 and through misdemeanor drug and traffic violations. He pleaded no contest in 2005 to a misdemeanor assault charge, according to Merced Superior Court records.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Rios at (209) 388-7766 or the Merced Police Department Tipster line at (209) 385-4725. Tips are confidential and you can remain anonymous. Send police an anonymous text message to TIP411 (847411), including the word “ComVIP” as the key word in the text message.
Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.