OC’s most wanted man remains at large
At the top of Orange County’s Most Wanted list is 52-year-old Marlon Winters. He is not only wanted by local
law enforcement, but also by federal authorities such as United States Marshals with the Justice Department. If apprehended he faces five counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of indecency of a child and bond forfeiture.
“My daughters were not his first or his last victims,” said Anita LeBlanc.
Winters’ local charges against him began in 1999 after he returned to the U.S. from Germany where he had been in the Army for 20 years and remained
there to work as a contractor. He married and had two children while in Germany. However, he left after he allegedly molested his own children and returned to Texas. He is not allowed to have contact with his children, according to America’s Most Wanted.
It wasn’t long before he began his search for vulnerable victims to “groom.” The two girls, ages six and nine years old, lived across the street. Grooming is a term used to describe the classic child molestation tactics to commit the crimes.
Winters slowly began gaining the girl’s trust by taking them on bike rides, teaching them to play the drums, buying them candy and gifts. Once he had their trust, investigators believe he made his move.
Winters was a drummer and would meet with other people and became part of a band. He gathered at their homes and had jam sessions with them. He also was employed as a construction worker.
However, he especially became friends with the two girls.
“He would do everything a little kid would love to do,” LeBlanc said. “When grooming a child, their love is over the top.”
According to LeBlanc, Winters had a game he liked to play with girls called the “monster game” which is similar to “hide and seek” but if the child was found, then the monster would win and do anything he chose to the child.
“This was a game that Winters used as part of any sexual game a person could think of,” LeBlanc said.
Eventually the 6-year-old girl told a friend of hers about the game because she thought that was a game that other kids played too, LeBlanc said.
As a result, he told his mother and the police were called.
Winters played a lot of mental games on the kids also, LeBlanc said.
“He had threatened them numerous times that if they told anybody that he would kill their parents,” LeBlanc said. “He would also tell them that because he was the adult and they were just children that nobody would believe them.”
Winters was indicted in July 1999. After he was arrested on the felony charges, he was able to post the $15,000 bond with the help of his mother who put up her house as collateral. The victims were not the only people anxiously awaiting for justice to be served. On the day of the trial the attorneys, witnesses and investigators waited for it to start, but Winters never appeared. As a result, his mother lost her house.
Before he left he built a shed on his Aunt’s property to store his belongings. Investigators were shocked at what they found. Inside were boxes of clippings of children from newspapers and magazines. But more horrifying to investigators were the clippings of local children at school related events which include their names and addresses. Investigators believe he was searching for his next victims.
To aid in getting the word out, investigators contacted the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” The story aired three times on television and twice on their radio broadcast. As a result, leads came in, but none were Winters.
Winters is fluent in German and is believed to be in Germany or Holland. Although, he could be anywhere, according to investigators. Life may have gone on for Winters, but it hasn’t been that easy for the victims.
LeBlanc’s older daughter lives everyday wishing she could have saved her younger sister the pain of dealing with being molested.
“My biggest fear is that there are more victims,” LeBlanc said. “My number one priority is to see him prosecuted and put in jail for what he has done to all the innocent children.”
LeBlanc worries about more victims and the nightmares other parents would have to endure.
Investigators said they would not only pursue the charges against Winters, but those who have assisted Winters in his escape.
Anyone with any information on the case is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s office at 409-883-2612.