OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A decomposing body found in a Seneca home has been identified as a fugitive who was wanted for 16 years.
On Nov. 6, a concerned neighbor conducted a welfare check at a home on Jennifer Lane in Seneca. The check was for an elderly man who had not been seen in weeks, according to the US Marshal Service. The neighbor found a decomposing body and called authorities.
Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said they believe he died in July.
Authorities discovered the dead man was Top 15 Most Wanted fugitive Frederick Cecil McLean, who had been on the run for more than 16 years.
McLean, 70, was wanted by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department in California on multiple counts of sexual assault on a child and was deemed a high risk for sexually assaulting young girls. One alleged victim, now an adult, reported McLean assaulted her more than 100 times, starting when she was five and ending about seven years later, US Marshals said.
The US Marshals also said he had been molesting young females for approximately 25 years with at least eight known victims. The US Marshals said he was a Jehovah’s Witness and found his victims through people he met in church.
An arrest warrant was issued for him in 2005 and he was added to the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted fugitive list in 2006.
The fugitive allegedly lived in the South Carolina home where his body was found for 15 years and was going by the alias “James Fitzgerald.”
“The discovery of Frederick McLean’s body marks an end to the manhunt, but the investigation continues,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis. “I want to personally thank the men and women of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the Oconee County Coroner’s Office who dedicated hundreds of man hours helping the Marshals identify the body and gather evidence allowing us to gain a better picture of McLean’s life as a fugitive.”
On Nov. 15, an autopsy was conducted, and a fingerprint was obtained and compared to the known fingerprints on file for McLean. A positive identification was confirmed based on the fingerprint analysis. No foul play is suspected in McLean’s death.
“We wish McLean’s fate had been determined by a court of law 15 years ago,” said U.S. Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California. “The investigators working on this case never gave up. We hope McLean’s death brings some sense of closure for the victims and their families, especially knowing he can never hurt another child.”
The U.S. Marshals and local authorities continue to investigate the case to determine if McLean received any help to avoid capture.
“During his years on the run McLean used numerous aliases and also lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Anderson, South Carolina,” said Stafford. “Because of his alleged crimes, we are concerned there may be other victims out there.”
According to the sheriff’s office, based on the evidence obtained by investigators, as well as the coroner’s office, no foul play is suspected in his death.
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement: “The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office conducted the death investigation regarding Mr. McLean. Based on the evidence obtained by our investigators, as well as the Coroner’s Office inquiry, no foul play is suspected in his death. The US Marshals service is continuing and will be handling the remainder of the investigation. Due to that fact, the Sheriff’s Office will not be releasing any further information nor answering any further questions, at this time, in order to preserve the integrity of the ongoing federal investigation. Please direct any further media inquiries to the US Marshals Service.”
Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact the nearest U.S. Marshals Service office, or local law enforcement authority.