Sheriff: Missing MS River kayaker faked death to escape sex charges

Sheriff: Missing MS River kayaker faked death to escape sex charges
Photo credit St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office

A man reported missing on the Mississippi River in Hahnville last month turns out to be alive -- and wanted for statutory rape in North Carolina.

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office says Georgia authorities picked up Melvin Emde. On August 7, Emde was reported missing, when his son claimed Emde fell out of his kayak while on the river near Matis Rd. in Hahnville.

Authorities learned the following day that Emde had charges pending in Brunswick County, North Carolina. Emde just happened to be due in court on that day to answer to charges of indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child by an adult.

Sheriff Greg Champagne says they knew during the search of the river that Emde was a wanted man.

"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," said Sheriff Champagne. "However, we could not publicly expose our suspicious for fear of tipping him off."

Emde was wearing an ankle monitor at the time of his disappearance. Detectives used that information to learn that Emde visited a Walmart in Boutte and bought two pre-paid phones. The search then shifted to Oklahoma, until it became apparent that the phones were no longer being used.

On the night of September 17, a Georgia Highway Patrol office attempted to pull over a motorcyclist for not having a license plate. The driver fled, but the bike crashed and he was apprehended. Fingerprints revealed his identity to be Melvin Emde.

"Now it's time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Caroline," Sheriff Champagne said.

Featured Image Photo Credit: St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office