Golden Valley, AZ – On April 22, 2020 the U.S. Marshals Service led Arizona WANTED Violent Offenders Task Force, working in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), arrested a dangerous fugitive and recovered a missing child in Golden Valley, Arizona.
"Armed fugitives that have abducted a child and is defiant to lawful orders places the community and law enforcement in harm's way and must remain a priority," said United States Marshal David Gonzales. "The US Marshals led task force members were joined by local and federal agencies who executed a plan that safely took custody of the child before arresting Messner, who will now be sent to California to answer for his crimes."
On April 5, Dustin Messner, 37, abducted his eight-year-old son from Stockton, Calif. An arrest warrant was issued for Messner, who was being charged with Child Custody Deprivation. California law enforcement immediately began an investigation to determine the whereabouts of both father and son. The ensuing investigation revealed that Messner fled the state of California.
During his two weeks on the run, Messner made numerous comments and posts to his social media accounts expressing his belief that man’s law had no authority over him and that he would not be returning his son. Messner also made several threats to any law enforcement who attempted to take his son from him. These posts included video of firearms assumed to be in Messner's possession.
On April 20, the District Attorney Investigator's Office in San Joaquin County, CA, requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service in locating and apprehending Messner. On April 22, members of the U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona-Flagstaff Division and the ATF conducted an apprehension and recovery operation at a home on Joseph Drive in Golden Valley, AZ. That evening, task force members arrested Messner and safely recovered the missing boy before turning him over to Child Protective Services.
Dustin Messner was transported to the Mohave County Detention Center while he awaits extradition back to San Joaquin County, CA. His son was happily reunited with his mother on April 23.
The U.S. Marshals Service supports the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC) mission to protect children from victimization by providing assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Since the U.S. Marshals' partnership with NCMEC began in 2005, the Marshals have helped recover 1,507 missing children.
A critical mission of the U.S. Marshals Service is enforcement of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The U.S. Marshals Service is committed to assisting local and state law enforcement with investigating and apprehending sex offenders who are not in compliance with their registration and fugitive sex offenders. The U.S. Marshals Service led Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force is responsible for more than 1748 arrests in the last year.