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For Immediate Release

Contact:
June 24, 2009 U.S. Marshal, Peter J. Elliott (216) 276-5855
TIPS LEAD TO CAPTURE OF ESCAPED SEX OFFENDER
AND SAFE RECOVERY OF MISSING CHILD

NOVFTF LogoMansfield, OH – U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott announces the capture of fugitive sex offender Robbi Potter, 27, along with the capture of associate Candace Watson, 24, and the safe recovery of 4 year old missing child Haylee Donathan. Yesterday at approximately 4:30 pm (PST), a tip was received by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, who then quickly responded to a Christian retreat center in Valley Center, Calif., where they were able to apprehend Potter and Watson and safely recover little Haylee without incident. The tipster reportedly saw one of the digital nationwide billboards which were put up by Clear Channel Communications in partnership with the U.S. Marshals. The tipster immediately recognized the trio as residents at the Christian retreat center and called 911 to report the tip.

Potter was wanted on a state warrant for parole violation and on a federal warrant for probation violation. Potter is a convicted Tier III sex offender for crimes of sex offenses of minors. On May 28, Potter fled a halfway house in Mansfield, which led to the violation charges. Watson was charged in June by the Richland County Sheriff’s Office with complicity to escape.

The U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force led an intense nationwide manhunt over the last several weeks in search of Potter, Watson and little Haylee. Substantial assistance was provided from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Shelby Police Department, Plymouth Police Department and Crestline Police Department, along with other partner agencies assigned to the task force. The case received significant national media attention, especially on CNN shows Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell and Headline News, as well as America’s Most Wanted. This exposure resulted in several hundred tips received and investigated by the task force and U.S. Marshals nationwide.

Potter and Watson will face extradition back to Ohio to face their charges. Haylee is in the custody of the San Diego County Children Services pending further review. The U.S. Marshals are also investigating possible federal Adam Walsh Act violation charges on Potter as well as federal harboring charges on Watson.

“We are very thankful to our partners in the media, especially CNN, America’s Most Wanted and Clear Channel Communications, for getting the photos and story out nationwide.” said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. “Clear Channel was able to quickly put up digital billboards in multiple states across the nation and this ultimately led to the tip that brought a safe ending to this investigation.”

Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Drew Deserto stated “I am extremely proud of all of the Deputy Marshals, Task Force Officers and law enforcement partners that worked day and night on this case. Their determination and perseverance were critical to this investigation and we can all rest easy to now have Haylee safely recovered and Potter back in custody.”

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of a known fugitive is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at: 1-866-4-WANTED. Callers may remain anonymous.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force in Richland County is composed of the following federal, state and local agencies: Bellville Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, Butler Police Department, Lexington Police Department, Mansfield Municipal Probation, Mansfield Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ontario Police Department, Plymouth Police Department, Richland County Probation, Richland County Prosecutor’s Office, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Shelby Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation and the Crestline Police Department are also assisting in this investigation.

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