SHEFFIELD — A former Sheffield resident is in custody of authorities in California, where he is awaiting rendition to Louisiana on decades-old child molestation charges.
Frank J. Selas III, 76, was arrested in Bonita, Calif., about two weeks ago after local police got a tip as to his whereabouts, according to Associated Press reports.
Selas, who had changed his name to John Szela, hosted a popular TV show called "Mr. Wonder" in Louisiana for several years in the mid-70s. He is accused of molesting two children, aged 5 and 11, on a camping trip.
He fled to Brazil in 1979, after police obtained a warrant for his arrest in connection with the molestation allegations. He returned to the United States in the early 1980s and lived in Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois and California, as well as Sheffield.
In recent years he has lived in San Diego serving as a Cub Scout leader. Authorities in California fear he may have preyed on children there, as well.
Selas, a native of Darien, Conn., lived on Salisbury Road, a winding road off Berkshire School Road in the 1980s, according to public records. He would have been in his early 40s at the time.
Both police chief Eric Munson III and Town Administrator Rhonda LaBombard reported they could not find any record of his presence in town.
"We couldn't find anything on him," LaBombard said. "The chief and I both searched our records."
Munson said he could not find anything in town records or in the state's criminal database.
"We actually talked to some former members of the department who worked in the '80s, and his name didn't ring a bell," Munson said. "He evidently kept a low profile when he was here."
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.