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Missing kayaker arrested after allegedly faking his death to avoid child rape charges

By Marlon Sorto, CNN

(CNN) — A man who allegedly attempted to fake his own death to evade child rape charges was arrested on Sunday after trying to flee a Georgia state trooper, according to a news release from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

After being reported missing in Louisiana since early August, Melvin Phillip Emde, 41, was arrested when a Georgia State Patrol officer attempted to stop a man riding a motorcycle without a license plate, according to the release.

The man fled and ultimately crashed, then attempted to flee on foot before he was arrested, according to police.

“The driver gave a false name, and once fingerprinted it was learned that he was Melvin Emde,” according to the release.

Emde is being held at the Dougherty County Jail in Albany, in south Georgia, online jail records showed as of Monday.

The Georgia State Patrol didn’t provide additional information regarding Emde’s arrest on Tuesday, as they said they were working on the incident report.

CNN is working to confirm whether Emde has retained a lawyer.

Emde had been reported missing on August 7 by his son after allegedly going overboard and drowning during a kayak trip in the Mississippi River near Matis Road in Hahnville, Louisiana.

The parish sheriff’s office initially searched for the man with officers, a cadaver dog and a drone, according to a post from officials on Facebook.

The following day, detectives learned Emde had pending charges of indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child in Brunswick County, North Carolina, according to the news release.

CNN has contacted Brunswick County Court to get more information on the charges against Emde but has not yet heard back.

Emde has a court appearance scheduled for October 3, according to court records.

“We immediately became quite suspicious that this may have been a faked accidental drowning and death in order for Mr. Emde to escape charges in Brunswick County, North Carolina,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said in the release.

“However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off,” he added.

Since Emde disappeared, Louisiana authorities had been working with other law enforcement agencies to locate him, according to the release.

“After consulting with authorities in North Carolina, detectives learned Emde was wearing an ankle monitor as a condition of bail,” the release said.

On the day of the reported drowning, detectives learned that Emde purchased two prepaid phones from a Walmart in Boutte, according to the release. Authorities from North Carolina and the United States Marshals Service worked with detectives to track the phones.

There are no plans to extradite Emde from Georgia to Louisiana – he will be sent directly to North Carolina, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Amanda Pertuis told CNN Tuesday via email.

“Now it’s time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Carolina,” Champagne said in his office’s release.

Pertuis also said that currently there are no charges filed against Emde stemming from him allegedly trying to fake his own death. It is an active investigation, she added.

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