ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — It’s a local sheriff’s final mission – to catch a convicted child abuser who’s escaped justice.
Action News Jax Investigator Paige Kelton shows his 28-year search for a criminal who could be hiding in plain sight.
“Sheriff, tell me the first time you heard the name Gregory Chandler,” Kelton asked St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar.
“It was a child molestation case back in ’84,” Shoar said.
Chandler, a computer expert fluent in French and German. A skydiver and travel junkie, Chandler grew up in Ohio, but lived in St. Augustine with his mother. That’s where Shoar said Chandler abused at least one boy.
“Unfortunately, those things happened back then before we did the sentencing reform back in the early 90s. So he never actually went to prison,” Shoar said.
Court records from almost 30 years ago show Chandler admitted to abusing one boy, saying “he had a drinking problem and needed help.”
The boy’s parent thought “it was a one-time incident.”
Shoar said it wasn’t; Chandler was convicted of abuse once and facing accusations and possible charges involving two more boys, Chandler disappeared.
“One of the sad parts of the story is that he’s been a fugitive from justice for so long, we don’t know how many victims are out there,” Shoar said.
Twenty-eight years later, Chandler remains St. Johns County’s longest-running fugitive from justice. Shoar began his career investigating Chandler; he hopes now to retire with an arrest.
“What bothers you with these cases is that they don’t stop offending. They get better in terms of hiding it. they get better in terms of picking their victims,” Shoar said.
Working to expose where and who Chandler is now is Rachael Moore of the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
“Think of a puzzle with all the blue pieces and no edges, and you’re trying to figure out what little part is important to get you to the next step. And small interviews, they can turn into that one piece of information that uncovers ... like pulling a string ... it uncovers everything that you’re fortunate enough to come face to face with who you’re looking for,” Moore said.
An age progression image shows what the now 55-year-old Chandler could look like. He could be anywhere in the world, a fugitive from justice.
“What are the chances this guy is abusing children in other countries?” Kelton asked.
“The problem with pedophilia and child molestation is age. it knows no age,” Moore said.
“And that’s the great unknown that keeps people like us awake at night. But hopefully, we’ll get another crack at him,” Shoar said.
Shoar hopes someone sees this story, recognizes Chandler’s face and exposes where Chandler has been hiding for the last 28 years. For more information about his profile, click here.
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