Ex-resident accused of molestation Man was extradited from Mexico, is being returned to county

November 11, 1998|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF Staff researcher Andrea Wilson contributed to this article.

A tired Tennessee airline pilot flipping through the channels late one night in the summer of 1996 provided the clue that ended a stalled, 5-year-old international manhunt for an Anne Arundel County man wanted on suspicion of molesting his stepchildren.

Anne Arundel detectives left yesterday to bring Rosendo Gutierrez-Rojero back from Texas to face charges of child abuse, perverted practice, battery and a sex offense. He fled to Mexico in 1993 after making arrangements to turn himself in to Anne Arundel Detective Norman E. Milligan III and was extradited to Texas last month.

Gutierrez-Rojero, 42, was arrested in May 1997 after a pilot for a small Tennessee air-freight company saw a few seconds of an "America's Most Wanted" broadcast that featured Gutierrez-Rojero, dubbed him a "child predator" and flashed his picture.

Police said the pilot recognized Gutierrez-Rojero as the man who had helped him process customs paperwork at the Saltillo Airport near Monterrey, Mexico. They had gone out for beer once while waiting for Mexican authorities to approve the documents. Gutierrez-Rojero used his real name and chatted with the pilot about how he used to live near Baltimore.

Police suspect Gutierrez-Rojero of molesting his stepdaughters, then ages 7 and 10, repeatedly over the five years he lived with them, starting in 1987. The younger girl told police he would lure her into his bedroom by asking to be brought a drink. According to court records, he forced her to perform sex acts.

The girl spoke to a friend a week after Gutierrez-Rojero married her mother, fearful that he would continue to molest her at their new home in Baltimore County, records said.

"It never crossed my mind that he would do that," said the girls' mother, who left him immediately. The Sun is not publishing her name to protect the identity of her children.

Police in Baltimore County have charged Gutierrez-Rojero with a third-degree sex offense. They suspect him of molesting one of the girls during the week he lived with them before the separation.

Police said both girls have attempted suicide and one has struggled with multiple personality disorder.

Gutierrez-Rojero was a landscape and construction worker in Anne Arundel County. After his marriage broke up, he arranged to turn himself in to authorities.

Instead, he called his employer from Akron, Ohio, saying he was traveling to Torreon, Mexico, or New Mexico because of an emergency. He asked that his paycheck be forwarded to Hobbs, N.M.

"We were chasing landscaping companies all over Prince George's and Anne Arundel County," said Detective Brandon McFayden, who worked for the county police fugitive task force. "We exhausted all leads until the victim's mother called 'America's Most Wanted.' "

The mother pleaded with the show's producers to air the case because she was afraid her husband would come back and attack her children.

After he was arrested, Gutierrez-Rojero was held in a Mexican prison. Anne Arundel County police had been working with the Department of Justice to arrange extradition, which was complicated by his Mexican citizenship.

"It is rare that the Mexican government will extradite their nationals. It has to be considered a heinous crime," said John Russell, spokesman for the Department of Justice.

Mexican officials agreed to extradition last month, and Gutierrez-Rojero has been jailed in Houston since mid-October. Upon his return to Maryland, he will be held in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

Pub Date: 11/11/98

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