SAN DIEGO (KNOE 8 News) – A lot went into tracking Mr. Wonder, Frank Selas, during his 37 years on the run. Justin Page was in San Diego to continue coverage on the mystery behind Mr. Wonder.
The trail went cold almost four decades ago, but police continued to search for the man wanted for sexually assaulting young boys back in the late 70’s. Rapides Parish Sheriff William Hilton had a special interest in the case, he reached out to the U.S Marshals for help in locating the man who got away. Frank Selas was later arrested at his Bonita California home. U.S. Marshall Steve Jurman in San Diego said this was a unicorn case that sat on the shelf for years but now is front and center with the outcome they’ve been waiting for.
The identity hearing of Frank Selas lasted about 7 minutes, but those 7 minutes were the first steps in bringing Mr. Wonder back to Louisiana. The shackled and frail Selas walked into a San Diego courtroom continuing with his argument that he was not the Frank Selas even after prosecutors said he told the officers who arrested him that he knew that warrants were out for his arrest. The judge quickly ruled that Mr. Selas was in fact the man wanted in Louisiana and he knew that the judge would rule against him.
The affidavits presented to the judge were from the U.S. Marshall and the Rapides Parish Sheriff both identifying Selas by his appearance and his specifics. They also ID’d Mr. Wonder by his date of birth and social security number. His attorneys continued to dodge questions about how it couldn’t be Mr. Selas, but items were found in his home from a search warrant were they retrieved memorabilia from his Mr. Wonder days.
People rallied in support of Mr. Selas saying that he has been in contact with minors and they’ve never had a problem with him. Since Mr. Wonder has been confirmed as the real Frank Selas, the next step is to get the Governor’s warrant to get him extradited back to Louisiana which could take 90 days.
Authorities executing that warrant tell former KNOE Reporter Ken Booth they discovered a trove of items from KNOE-TV and old tapes from the Mr. Wonder TV show.
Selas was host of the KNOE children’s show in 1979. He was accused of molesting six boys following a June camping trip in Rapides Parish. However, Selas and his family fled Louisiana before he could be charged with the crimes.
Prior to Louisiana, Selas globetrotted the world serving in various roles of teaching and youth leadership. He settled in Bonta, California around 1985, where he legally changed his name and used a scrambled social security number.
After evading arrest for 37-years, the Rapides Parish Sheriff asked that the investigation be reopened, which led federal marshals to Bonita where they confronted and arrested Selas at his home.
During his first court appearance Selas pleaded innocent to fugitive charges and told authorities he is not the man wanted in Louisiana. The Selas family issued a statement of shock over the arrest and noted his years of community service in California.
On February 11th Selas will be back in court for an identity hearing where a judge will hear testimony and make a decision as to whether he is the man wanted for alleged sex crimes in Louisiana. U.S. Marshals from Louisiana are expected to attend that hearing. Until, then, “Mr. Wonder” is jailed without bond.
The ABC TV station in San Diego (10News.com) is also reporting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints banned Selas from having any contact with children. A spokesperson says that happened after Selas failed to comply with the church’s child protection policies.
The statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reads:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind, and considers child abuse to be one of the most serious of sins. No one who had a known history or was suspected of child abuse would be permitted to serve in a position that brought them into contact with children.
When this individual failed to comply with the Church’s child protection policies, he was removed from all positions related to children. When a parent later expressed a generalized concern about his behavior toward a child, the Church urged the parent to report this to authorities.
The Church’s approach to abuse is very aggressive, and if someone is convicted of child abuse, they would be subject to formal sanction from the Church, and would lose their membership in the faith. We are fully supportive of the efforts of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute anyone who abuses a child.”
It was also reported Selas had been banned from serving in the Boy Scouts.