U.S. Marshals Top 15 Most Wanted Found Dead In South Carolina
Frederick McLean was on the U.S. Marshals Top 15 Most Wanted since 2006. Investigators said McLean lived in Poughkeepsie, NY and Anderson, SC. He used a number of alises over the years and investigators are concerned other victims are still out there.
The United States Marshals Service confirms to "In Pursuit with John Walsh" Frederick McLean, who has been on their top 15 most wanted list since 2006, was found deceased inside a home.
McLean, who was 70-years-old, was featured in season one of In Pursuit and was wanted for multiple counts of child molestation.
According to a U.S. Marshals press release, on November 6, 2021, a neighbor conducted a welfare check on an elderly man. During this check, the neighbor discovered a decomposing body. On November 15, 2021, a fingerprint was compared to the prints on file and confirmed the remains were the suspect. At the time of his death, investigators said he was using the name: James Fitzgerald.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department sought McLean for multiple counts of sexual assault on a child. A woman, who was a victim at the age of 5, said McLean assaulted her more than 100 times, the release adds.
U.S. Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California said, “We wish McLean’s fate had been determined by a court of law 15 years ago. The investigators working on this case never gave up. We hope McLean’s death brings some sense of closure for the victims and their families, especially knowing he can never hurt another child.”
If you have any additional information, please contact the U.S. Marshals directly or your local law enforcement.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE 3/19/19:
ALPINE, CA — Callahan Walsh of In Pursuit With John Walsh recently traveled to Alpine, California, to work on the case of alleged predator Frederick “Rick” McLean.
He sat down with Jehovah’s Witnesses Orville and Debra Wesche to hear about the trusted friend they say allegedly used his religion to molest children — including their daughter.
Debra tells In Pursuit, “Rick was very well liked by the congregation. He would take children to the hall, take them hiking, pick up for their mom. The kids liked Rick. And then he was a ministerial servant, so he was somebody that parents would trust.”
When the Wesches moved to Alpine in 1995, they became extremely close to McLean and his wife, Nancy. They say their kids would always have sleepovers, and watch movies and play games together. The Wesches thought they were making positive memories for their children, but in reality, it was a nightmare for their young daughter behind closed doors.
“I felt really, really naïve about the whole thing — that I could’ve trusted somebody that much and then be betrayed by them,” Orville says.
Debra remembers that when her daughter Andrea reached her adolescent years, there was some odd behavior. “I remember it would be a hundred degrees outside, and she’d wear a sweatshirt every day. Her hair was falling out, so I took her to a dermatologist,” Debra remembers.
The doctor told her Andrea’s hair was missing because she was pulling it out. “She would keep her window and her bedroom closed, and she would always close the curtain, which I thought was odd, but I attributed it to her becoming an adolescent,” she adds.
A SURPRISE DIVORCE
In 2004, the Wesches were shocked to learn that Nancy was kicking out Rick and filing for divorce. Nancy confided that she found out that her husband was allegedly preying on their young daughter Andrea and possibly others within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It totally changed my view of the world. I couldn’t believe what had happened to my child,” Debra tells In Pursuit.
“I can remember going into the house,” Debra says.“I called her into my bedroom, and I said to her, ‘I know why Nancy and Rick got divorced.’”
Andrea says she remembers that she was quiet and then, “I just started crying.” Andrea adds, “I kind of feel that I was all over the place. So much had been blocked out and I still wanted to block things out. And then I had this feeling of something was wrong with me. Like, what did I do wrong? Like this had to be my fault.”
Debra and Orville weren’t sure what to do or where to turn. They were overwhelmed and angry. “I ended up having a nervous breakdown. I felt that I should have known. Mother is to protect the child, and I didn’t protect my daughter. So, I felt very unworthy to be a parent,” Debra says.
Andrea reveals to In Pursuit that McLean abused her from the age of 8 to 13. “I remember that we would spend the night at the McLeans’ house … my brothers and myself. And that’s actually when some of the abuse took place. I was the only girl there and, you know, I mean it basically happened right in front of the other kids, but they didn’t know what was going on,” Andrea remembers.
She says McLean would always give her money after the abuse and make her promise not to tell anyone. “This is someone who held a position within the congregation. I mean, you know, my parents loved this person. My whole family did. So, I just figured this was just something I don’t talk about,” Andrea says.
Andrea says any opportunity McLean had to take advantage of her, he would take it. “I would often go over to Rick and his wife’s home and I would babysit their daughter…. His wife would be out, either running errands or she could be out doing yard work, and it would even take place then,” Andrea tells In Pursuit.
Andrea says McLean would confide in her about other children he was allegedly abusing, and soon enough, law enforcement would find out, too. It’s believed he exploited at least eight young females, over decades.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Assistant Chief Tom Maranda says, “We had more victims come forward, going back 20 or 25 years, from, this is back in 2005. So, he had been molesting girls for decades before we started looking for him.”
As the investigation was kicked into high speed, so was McLean — to get out of town. “He started the process of liquidating everything that he owned,” Maranda says. McLean had been kicked out of his family home, but he reached out to his wife one last time. He asked her and his children to meet him on the side of the road in town. McLean reportedly said, “he didn’t want to go to prison. He said good-bye and that he would never contact them again,” Maranda adds.
“The next time they heard from him was when his truck showed up at another family member’s driveway. They just woke up in the morning and his truck was there,” Maranda says. Inside were instructions on selling the truck, Christmas gifts for the kids, and McLean’s driver’s license, wallet, and personal belongings.
Although McLean didn’t see his family in person again, he did send a bizarre letter. Maranda tells In Pursuit it was a treasure map. “The treasure map was a sketch of a residence with some notes that there was a container with cash buried in this spot,” Maranda says. The map was incomplete, only displaying a partial sequence of numbers to a home somewhere in the United States. “And it said if something happened to McLean, somebody would contact the family and give them the address,” Maranda adds.
He says the lead was extremely significant because it told him there could be someone else out there who knows the kind of person McLean really is.
Maranda figured out McLean sold a 1955 replica Chevy race car. He was able to get in touch with the person in Florida who bought the vehicle. He recovered the registration and the address listed on the form was a partial match to the address on the treasure map.
“We secured a search warrant and went to the house. We didn’t know who lived there, who was this person, what he was to McLean,” Maranda adds. It turned out the homeowner had no idea McLean was an accused predator, and he simply told authorities he allowed him to live there for a period of time.
As far as the loot, “It was very clear that something was there,” Maranda said. “You could still see in the dirt where the container had left an imprint.” It seemed McLean likely needed the cash to stay on the run. At this point, it's possible he was traveling with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
MCLEAN ON THE RUN
Deputy U.S. Marshal Dylan Frankenheimer tells In Pursuit, “I think about it every day and I know Tom (Maranda) does too. We realize that there are victims out there that want justice, need justice, and we also realize that he’s out there now, today, victimizing others.”
Andrea says even though McLean has been running for 16 years, “I want him to be caught. I want him to go to jail forever. I mean, I don’t care how horrible it is in prison. He needs to pay, and I feel that life in prison is what he deserves.”
Callahan Walsh echoes those sentiments, “Anyone who harms a child in my book deserves a special place in hell, and I think that begins in the inside of a jail cell.”
Investigators say McLean makes friends easily because he is extremely polite and soft spoken. He has a fascination for vintage race cars, keeps an immaculate garage, and could be working as a mechanic. It’s possible McLean could be hiding out in a Jehovah’s Witness community.
TRAITS & CHARACTERISTICS:
- Weight: 170 pounds
- Height: 5 feet 11 inches
- Sex: Male
- Race: Caucasian
- Hair: Brown, graying
- Eyes: Hazel
- Current age: 68
- Date of birth: February 15, 1951
- Last seen: Hemet, CA
- Location of crime: Alpine and Hemet, CA
- Neat and organized
- Enjoys camping
- Likes traditional country music
- Described as a talented mechanic, works on vintage race cards (including Can-AM, Formula 500 series from the 60s & 70s)
- Those who know him say he’s intelligent and methodical
- Could be using a new alias
- Night owl
- Generally, does not use a mobile phone
If you know anything about this case, please contact our hotline (833-3-PURSUE) or submit a tip online.
For more on this case, watch the “Deadly Daughter” episode of In Pursuit With John Walsh on Wednesday, March 20 at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery! Or catch up on ID GO.