Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Foreign Fugitives Delaying Justice

Two years ago today, a little girl in West Chester was left parentless. Her mom bled to death from stab wounds. Her dad, accused of being the killer, went on the run.

That sad scenario helps motivate Detective Lori Beiser to keep chipping away at a seemingly impossible task: finding a foreign fugitive who could be anywhere in the world, using virtually any name.

“I keep thinking about getting justice for the little girl – and for Jackelin,” Beiser said.

The girl’s mother, Jackelin Romero, 24, suffered more than 20 stab wounds on Sept. 23, 2006. She lay undiscovered while relatives, caring for her 5-year-old daughter, filed a missing-persons report. The next day, police found Romero dead in her bedroom at the Trails of West Chester apartments.

Romero’s husband, Melvin Ramon Mejia, a native of Honduras, fled as West Chester police were charging him with murder.

“He headed south – and he was gone,” Beiser said.

Local authorities say Mejia is among a rising number of fugitives who are believed to be hiding in foreign countries to dodge prosecution. The charges they face range from theft to rape to murder. Some are foreign-born suspects who return to their homelands. A few are U.S. citizens who reinvented their lives abroad under assumed names.

Most stand little chance of being captured.

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