Most Wanted fugitive Paul Clouston found in Merced

Paul Clouston
Paul Clouston

A 74-year-old man featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" is now sitting in a cell at the Merced County Jail.

Paul Clouston, a convicted cop killer, child molester and one of the U.S. Marshal's Office's 15 most wanted fugitives, was arrested Tuesday by Merced County sheriff's deputies with the STAR Team and U.S. marshals. They found him at a residence in the 500 block of Henry Street, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.

The arrest happened around 4:30 p.m. after agents from the Fresno Division of the U.S. Marshal's Office received a tip that Clouston was staying at the home. The tip came from a person who recognized Clouston's profile on the America's Most Wanted website.

Clouston, who'd been a parolee-at-large since 2005, was profiled on the program three years ago. Agents contacted the Merced Sheriff's STAR Team, whose members are sworn deputy U.S. marshals and part of the U.S. Marshall Fugitive Apprehension Team.

He was taken into custody without incident.

The U.S. Marshal's Office said that for the past four years, Clouston was employed as a maintenance worker at a group home in Merced. Sheriff Mark Pazin described the location as a group home "for a transient population. Hence, he was able to stay under the radar for so long, absconding from the law, living this nomadic life."

Pazin said the arrest was proof of the wisdom in cross-deputizing the STAR Team with the U.S. Marshal's Office. He also commended Deputy Nicole Ramos, the STAR Team's lead investigator on the case. "We basically got a cop killer and child molester off the streets," Pazin said. "We have enough problems. We don't need to import these kinds of problems into Merced County from Virginia."

Clouston was convicted in 1973 on second-degree murder charges for the 1972 death of police officer Darrel "Bud" Cate in the Orange County city of Buena Park, according to his bio on the America's Most Wanted website.

He was released from prison in 1982. He was indicted on 17 counts of sexually abusing children in the Williamsburg, Va., area in 1991, pleaded guilty to seven of the 17 charges and was returned to prison. He was paroled in 2005, but failed to register as a sex offender.

Clouston is being held without bail. He's scheduled to be extradited back to Virginia, where his molestation charges originated.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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