Arrest made in 37 Year old criminal sexual conduct cold case
Press Release – In June 1979, the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office received a complaint in reference to allegations of criminal sexual conduct that occurred at the primitive camping area near Valentine Lake at Kisatchie National Forest, Gardener, LA. The complainants reported that their juvenile children had attended a camping retreat with Frank John Selas III, also known as “Mr. Wonder” (approx. 39 yrs. at the time) who hosted a children’s television program at a north LA television station.
The retreat, which took place June 01 – 03, 1979, was promoted by Selas throughout Ouachita Parish and associated with his television personality. During the trip, Selas allegedly sexually abused several of the children that attended, which he was trusted to chaperone and protect. Following their return, the children disclosed the sexually based criminal acts to their respective parents who in turn contacted law enforcement.
The investigation was originally assigned to then Detective William E. Hilton and Detective Graham Hendricks. Hilton and Hendricks initiated their investigation immediately, which resulted in warrants being granted for Selas’s arrest in reference to two counts of Obscene Behavior With a Juvenile.
With the warrants in hand, Hilton and Hendricks, with the assistance of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, attempted to locate Selas at his place of business, as well as his residence, but were unsuccessful. Hilton and Hendricks were later informed by Selas’s wife Maria Magdalena Aranda Selas Szeles, that her husband had fled the area to parts unknown in their family vehicle. The following day, with the assistance of Texas law enforcement, Selas’s vehicle was located in a suburb of Dallas, TX.
Further investigation verified that following his departure from the Dallas, area Selas fled the country to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in lieu of arrest. Throughout the years following their initial investigation, Hilton and Hendricks, as well as other law enforcement officers at their direction, continued the search for Selas.
During this search, detectives learned of prior allegations levied against Selas in the early 70’s, while employed at a school in Tokyo, Japan. It was also verified that following his return to the United States in the early 80’s, Selas resided in multiple towns / cities across the country. These locations included but was not limited his hometown of Darien, CT, South Royalton, VT, Chicago, IL, San Diego, CA, Sheffield, MA, and Bonita, CA.
Approximately two weeks ago, Detectives in conjunction with members of the United States Marshals Service, Western District-LA, Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force located Selas in Bonita, CA. They learned that following his return to the United States, Selas used various aliases to conceal his identity which included “Frank John Szeles”.
His wife Maria also utilized the same alias last name and the two continued to reside together throughout the United States. In approximately 1992, Selas legally changed his last name in San Diego County CA to “Szeles” in a further attempt to disguise his identity. Upon verifying Selas’s home address, Bonita, CA, members of the United States Marshals Service, Southern District-CA, San Diego Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force immediately initiated 24 hours surveillance of the residence.
On January 25th, 2016, at approximately 1830 Hours C.S.T. , members of the U.S.M.S. Violent Offender Taskforce Southern District-CA San Diego Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force took Selas into custody at his residence without incident. Selas was later booked into the San Diego County Detention Center in reference to the warrants.
Frank John Selas III A.K.A. Frank John Szeles, A.K.A. “Mr. Wonder” 76, of Bonita, CA is currently being detained at San Diego County Detention Center in lieu of extradition proceedings.
Detectives state their investigation is still ongoing and Selas may be arrested in reference to additional charges relating to this case as well as others in which he was suspected of like crimes.
Anyone with any information associated with crimes believed to be perpetrated by Frank John Selas III A.K.A. Frank John Szeles, A.K.A. “Mr. Wonder” are asked to contact Detective Stephen Phillips Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office at (318) 473-6727, Crime Stoppers at (318) 443-7867, or your local law enforcement.
Arrestee: Frank John Selas III A.K.A. Frank John Szeles, A.K.A. “Mr. Wonder”, 76, Bonita, CA
Charges: Two counts – Obscene Behavior With a Juvenile
Frank Selas apps word.pdf – Application to Draw Children