With police admitting Thursday they were one step behind U.S. Army fugitive and alleged child sex abuser Michael Edward Harris, who fled his apartment on Wednesday after he was discovered living and working as a dog trainer in Sihanoukville, his ex-wife has offered a $2,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to his arrest and return to the U.S.
The staff sergeant from Arizona fled the U.S. for Cambodia on January 17 after skipping bail in Orlando, Florida, where he faced trial for 44 counts of possessing child pornography, leading to a military desertion charge and a place on the U.S. Army’s top 20 most wanted list, Wayne Hall, a U.S. Army media relations officer, confirmed Thursday.
Mr. Harris also stands accused of child sex abuse in the U.S. and poses a serious risk to children in Cambodia, according to his ex-wife, Denise Diaz, who has offered to pay a $2,000 reward to anyone who can expedite his arrest and return to the U.S. to face the charges.
“I’m giving a $1000 reward and i have an anonymous donor for another $1000 reward making it $2000 for anyone to drag him into the US Embassy so he can be brought back to the US and i don’t care if he’s dead or alive,” she said in an email.
Ms. Diaz alerted U.S. and local authorities here after learning via Facebook on Tuesday that her ex-husband was employed as a dog trainer at K9 Cambodia Elite Service Dog Facility under the alias Michael Dobbs.
But a team of police investigators searched his apartment in Sihanoukville on Thursday morning and found him gone.
“We had some clues that he was living in Sihanoukville and we were on our way to find the suspect this morning, but he knew that police were coming to look for him so he had gone,” said Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Ministry of Interior’s immigration department.
Mr. Heisela remained confident that Cambodian authorities would prevent the fugitive from leaving the country and said Mr. Harris’ photo and pictures of his motorcycle had been sent to all border checkpoints.
“He cannot escape. We believe we will make an arrest within a few days because our experts have already identified more clues that will help us find him,” he said, adding that he believed the suspect was hiding in Sihanoukville or had traveled to Phnom Penh.
Mr. Heisela responded with bemusement when told that the suspect’s ex-wife had issued a bounty, but said it had little bearing on the investigation.
“I am surprised by this. I don’t think it is a good idea and nor do I think offering $2,000 will help in the case,” he said.
“We cannot prevent her from doing this and it creates confusion to our investigation, but it is a very small thing for us to worry about.”