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Update: Mozdir killed in arrest attempt
This story was originally reported July 20, 2014.
Charles Mozdir’s two friends thought they knew him: in school, Charlie seemed to take pride in never really fitting in with one group. When these two friends – who requested their names not be used – got married, Mozdir was their wedding photographer. He was even present for the birth of their first child. Sure, Charlie seemed to have a secret life and told outlandish stories about his overseas travels – but the couple figured that was part of his eccentric nature.
Then, in June 2012, everything changed. The couple’s now 7-year-old son was ill with a high fever and the mother was trying to take care of the couple’s newborn daughter. The father, who was away at the time, insisted his wife call Mozdir to help out since he was a night owl anyway.
Charles Mozdir, 32
Despite her apprehension, she did call Mozdir and he came over to help watch the sick child. As she slept in the same king size bed with her son, Mozdir stayed awake by the bedside keeping an eye on the feverish child. The next morning, she thanked Mozdir for being “a great godfather” and she said “that was the last time I saw him.” She said her son told her a short time later about how Mozdir had touched his private parts and told the boy this was normal and that his parents would be upset if he said anything to them.
The mother said she was physically ill after hearing this and, after telling her husband, they immediately went to the police. Coronado, California, investigators executed a search warrant on Mozdir’s house and found evidence of child pornography and bestiality on his cell phone and computers, according to U.S. Marshals Service deputy Brian Grimes.
Mozdir was arrested four days after the incident and booked into the San Diego County jail before posting bail the next day. The district attorney told the couple that Mozdir had been accused in another child assault case when he was babysitting a young boy who told his mother. On June 15, 2012, Mozdir failed to appear at his arraignment.
Charges were immediately filed and arrest warrants were issued. Grimes said investigators believe he took all his money and fled. Mozdir indicated he was considering going to Mexico or Japan during one of his last phone calls. His roommate told police that Mozdir had two guns and had threatened to kill himself and kill a victim’s father.
The Coronado Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service searched for Mozdir in Georgia and California, as well as the Mexican state of Baja California. On June 20, 2012, Coronado police found Mozdir’s abandoned vehicle hidden in the brush outside the coastal Georgia town of Darien. The license plate had been ripped off and there was an extra gas tank inside. A bloodhound picked up Mozdir’s scent near U.S. Highway 17.
Then, for two years, Mozdir’s trail went cold.
On July 20, 2014, when CNN first broadcast the episode of “The Hunt” featuring Mozdir, a deputy U.S. marshal fielding calls received a tip. “I know Mozdir. He left here 10 months ago,” the caller said, according to Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Jurman. The call “really stood out,” Jurman said, “because they mentioned that he had a dog.” The last time Mozdir had been spotted, Jurman said, his black Labrador, Lucky, was with him.
After CNN re-aired the Mozdir episode on the following Sunday, another tip came in that resulted in an address for Mozdir, John Walsh told CNN. Investigators learned that Mozdir may have been in Florida, and they contacted a female friend they had been in touch with previously. The friend told investigators that she thought Mozdir was living in New York City and possibly working at a smoke shop, a senior law enforcement official said.
On July 28, a New York police detective and two U.S. marshals entered a smoke shop in New York City where Mozdir worked. Mozdir “fired on officers at a very close range,” New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, and “officers returned fire.” The officers were wounded during the shootout but are expected to recover, authorities said.