Sex assault suspect caught after nearly two decades

March 15, 2011 3:05:40 AM PDT
A man wanted for sexually assaulting a young boy nearly two decades ago is finally in custody.

Most people wanted by police hide out, change their names and even cross state lines but not 58-year-old Stanley Blackwell. Though he hasn't renewed his driver's license since the year 2000, he has been living as a very public life.

A small, rural subdivision in northeast Harris County is where Marvin Towler moved to retire. His neighbor moved there as a fugitive, but you'd never know it.

"He wasn't hiding right?" we asked Towler.

"No I see him all the time. I had no idea," he replied.

Those who know Blackwell are now shocked to learn about his past -- a 1995 warrant out of Travis County for skipping out on bond after being convicted of sexual assault of a child.

But it all caught up with him on Saturday.

"Nobody was looking for him?" we asked Towler.

"Evidently not," said Sgt. Ronald Willingham with the Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable's Office.

Not until the Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable's Office got a tip about Blackwell's whereabouts last week did anyone really look for him. If they had, they would have found him tooling up and down his street often in a golf cart.

They would have found him listed as the owner of two funeral homes in Harris County and they would have been alerted when he appeared on Eyewitness News two and a half years ago.

"These are just natural causes that just happen every day of the year," he told us during a 2008 interview in the chapel at his funeral home and crematorium in Crosby.

Back then, we interviewed him amid allegations that he was stacking bodies -- victims of Hurricane Ike -- in four refrigerated FEMA trucks outside. His cemetery, he told us, was the regional storage site for funeral homes in the event of a disaster, and when the power went out in September 2008, FEMA sent the trucks and powerless funeral homes sent over their deceased.

"Not hiding bodies, no, I've got nothing to hide, no reason to," he told us then.

Not entirely true we now know. Willingham says he didn't question his arrest on Saturday, only whether he'd be isolated in jail.

"He had an understanding of the way the jail system worked for the offense that he committed," Willingham said.

He hoped to be segregated after living 16 years out in the open.

"Usually a fugitive like that would lay low and not out in the public as much as he was," Willingham said.

Blackwell is in the Montgomery County Jail with no bond awaiting extradition to Travis County. No one at the district attorney's office there returned our calls on Monday. Neither did anyone with state funeral commission, and Blackwell's wife hung up on me.

His victim in the 90s was a neighbor boy who did lawn work for him at his ranch in the hill country.