BROOKSVILLE — The hunt for Guy Osman Gould Jr. began the moment he failed to show up for his Sept. 3 hearing at the Hernando County Courthouse to face charges of sexual battery to a child.
Little did the authorities know that day that he was half a world away — with no intentions of coming back.
According to state and federal law enforcement representatives, Gould, 66, who was arrested in January on four charges of engaging in sexual activities with two teenage boys, planned his flight to the Pacific Island of Samoa well in advance of his court date.
But his great escape didn't last.
When Samoan authorities learned of the charges last week, they sent him back. He was arrested Tuesday by U.S. Marshals at Los Angeles International Airport and was in Los Angeles on Wednesday awaiting extradition.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Ron Lindbak said Wednesday that Gould knew the perfect place to hide. A tropical island paradise with year-round temperatures around 80 degrees, Samoa, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, has much to offer a fugitive from justice, including the lack of an extradition treaty with the United States.
"He certainly was aware of that," Lindbak said. "That's probably what attracted him to it."
Neighbors told Brooksville police that they last saw Gould on Aug. 27 carrying a small bag as he left his mobile home on Daffodil Drive with a man in an older model blue car. His arrest seven months earlier stemmed from accusations of sexual contact with two boys, ages 14 and 15 between August 2009 and January of this year. According to a police report, Gould confessed to having sex with the teens.
Gould's attorney, Peyton Hyslop, said Wednesday that he and assistant state attorney Brian Trehy met in court in August to see if an ankle monitoring device could be removed to alleviate the open sores it was causing on his client's ankles.
"He's a very small person and it had rubbed him so raw that it kept shorting out," Hyslop said.
Investigators suspect Gould may have sold all of his belongings in preparation to leave the country. According to Brooksville police Chief George Turner, Gould purchased his round-trip plane ticket through a local travel agency and had reserved a hotel room for a two-week stay in the Samoan capital of Apia.
He left the United States on Aug. 31 and entered Samoa on a 30-day tourist visa, which he subsequently asked to be extended to 60 days.
A warrant was issued for Gould on Sept. 4. Once it was learned that Gould had left the United States, the matter was turned over to state and federal authorities.
Special agents from the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, acting on a tip received at the U.S. Embassy in Samoa, located Gould and notified Samoan authorities about the case, according to a State Department news release.
Samoan police tracked Gould and arrested him without incident, the release noted. The Samoan government agreed to deport Gould after learning of his criminal charges in Florida.
"This is an example of the unparalleled capability of Diplomatic Security to locate, pursue and return fugitives,'' Jeffrey Culver, DSS director, said in the release.
Hyslop said Wednesday that he had not heard from his client since his arrest. Although he was surprised to learn that his client had fled to Samoa, he could understand why he wanted to go.
"He's 66 years old, probably facing life as a minimum sentence," Hyslop said. "I've always heard that it's a pretty place."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or email@example.com.