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U.S. Marshals nab Texas man here

by RALPH BARTHOLDT
Staff Writer | April 2, 2020 1:14 AM

A 47-year-old Texas man accused of taking his 6-year-old son on an 1,800-mile trip during a visitation was arrested Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene.

Ronald Whitted, 47, of Fort Worth, was arrested on charges of interference with child custody order, said Michael Leigh, a deputy U.S. Marshal.

Leigh said Whitted had a visitation with his 6-year-old son last week but failed to return the boy to his mother, instead fleeing with the boy on a several-day trip.

“He was believed to have attempted to flee the country,” Leigh said.

Because Texas authorities thought the child was in danger, the Hurst, Texas, police department requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals task force to locate Whitted.

Officers learned that Whitted may have traveled to North Idaho. They enlisted marshals here, as well as Coeur d’Alene police, to find Whitted.

The Texas man was arrested around 10 p.m. Tuesday at an apartment on Hattie Avenue. Whitted is being held without bond in the Kootenai County jail until he can be extradited to Texas.

The child was safely recovered, police said.

Police said Whitted left Hurst — a community of 40,000 between Dallas and Fort Worth — around March 17 and began the trip north. The drive is estimated at 27 hours, or around three days.

“After being on the run for almost two weeks, the Greater Idaho Fugitive Task Force … tracked Whitted and his son to an apartment in downtown Coeur d’Alene,” Leigh said. “Task force members arrested Whitted late in the evening and safely recovered the missing boy.”

U.S. Marshals-led task forces find and arrest fugitives throughout the country who are charged with violent crimes, drug offenses, sex offenders and other serious felonies, and they investigate and recover missing and exploited children, Leigh said in a press release.

Since the U.S. Marshals’ partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children began 15 years ago, marshals have helped recover 1,507 missing children, Leigh said.

Leigh, who oversees a group of marshals housed at the U.S. District Court’s federal building at 6450 N. Mineral Way said marshals assist other agencies to recover children who are missing under circumstances that indicate the children are at risk.

The local task force is comprised of Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls police, the Kootenai County prosecutor’s office, the marshal’s office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

Tips can be submitted to the U.S. Marshals via their website, Leigh said.

Extradition proceedings will begin this month for Whitted, who faces civil charges in Kootenai County, and whose criminal charges will be pursued in Texas. His next court appearance is April 10 in Coeur d’Alene.