Missing accused Osceola Co. child molester back in jail
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
An accused child molester, who was under GPS monitoring but escaped after removing his ankle bracelet, is back in the Osceola County Jail.
Authorities said Loomes Wheeler Jr. cut off his GPS monitor while he awaited trial and left town last fall. He was captured in the Bahamas on Wednesday, arrested by drug enforcement agents on unrelated charges.
Wheeler, 70, is charged with multiple counts of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct after two of his relatives came forward last spring claiming they were molested.
"I'm not guilty," Wheeler told members of the media, as he was escorted to the jail by deputies. "I needed a vacation," he replied, when asked by one reporter why he left the area. "I'm not saying else!"
When asked about the victims, Wheeler replied, "What victims?"
"He's facing his violation of probation charge, as well as the capital offenses that he was originally charged with last April," said Twis Lizasuain, Osceola County Sheriff's spokesperson.
Wheeler was released from jail on a $115,000 bond last year and was fitted with an ankle monitor. Detectives said he removed the monitor in the early morning hours of September 2, and they believe he had help with his escape.
Deputies also arrested 44-year-old Patrice Smith Bullard, a former business associate who lives in a gated community in Windermere. Bullard was taken into custody in Fort Lauderdale. Investigators said she too was trying to flee the country to go to the Bahamas.
"She was arrested this morning, and she's charged with accessory after the fact," Lizasuain said. "Ms. Bullard had picked him up from his home, driven him to Miami, got a hotel for him and made arrangements for an unknown male to pick him up and take him to the Bahamas by boat."
Wheeler and Bullard's ex-husband were recently detained during a marijuana drug sweep in the Bahamas. Drug agents said Wheeler had a fake ID on him at the time of his arrest.
Wheeler and Bullard are expected to appear before a judge on Friday.
"We hope that this will bring relief to the family knowing that he is going to stand a trial for his charges," Lizasuain said.
FOX 35's Jackie Orozco, Valerie Boey, and Melissa Mahadeo contributed to this report.