The disappearance of accused child molester Charles Mozdir, who died in a shootout with authorities Monday in New York City was among the most baffling fugitive cases some U.S. marshals had ever seen, law-enforcement officials tell the Wall Street Journal. Mozdir went “completely dark” six days after posting bail in 2012 on charges that included sexually abusing the 7-year-old son of a childhood friend in California. “Rarely do we have a case that goes so cold so quickly,” said Marshal Steve Jurman of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force.
There was no trace of Mozdir in law-enforcement databases—no credit cards, cellphone records or bills to his name. Authorities did know he had a history of working in a smoke shop. Over two years, marshals followed tips to Mexico and Japan. Then on July 20, during a broadcast of CNN’s “The Hunt,” a man recognized Mozdir from the program and called a tip line. By Monday they had narrowed the hunt to Smoking Culture, a tiny smoke shop in Manhattan’s West Village. A New York police detective entered the store and tried to grab Mozdir, who pulled a .32 caliber revolver from his right pocket and began firing. Marshals returned fire, shooting Mozdir 10 times and killing him.