Federal law officials say the arrest of a fugitive from Jackson County who has been on the run for more than 16 years should send a message to those who commit crimes against children.
On Friday morning, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler officially announced the arrest of Charles Hollin, 61, a former Jackson County resident.
Hollin faces federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution after he allegedly kidnapped a 10-year-old girl at knifepoint from the former Girls Inc. building in Seymour in 1999, molested her and left her naked on a county road near Cortland.
Minkler said Hollin disappeared a little more than 16 years ago and fled first to Minnesota and then later to Oregon.
“You can run. You can try to hide. But no matter how much time passes, if you commit a crime against a child in the Southern District of Indiana, federal law enforcement will send a cavalry,” Minkler said during a news conference Friday at the Seymour police station.
“We will hunt you down. We will find you and we will bring you to court to face justice,” he added.
Minkler said the case is also a good illustration of how federal, state and local law enforcement will work together.
Facial recognition technology was used by the FBI to match an old photo of Hollin with a photograph from a passport photo of Andrew David Hall.
That technology only started being widely used nationally in the last three years, and state laws did not allow investigators to search DMV files from Minnesota or Oregon previously, officials said.
Police say Hollin used the identity of Hall, an 8-year-old boy killed in a car accident in Kentucky in 1975, to obtain identification, including a driver’s license and Social Security card.
Hollin also faces federal charges of identity theft.
“This is a consequential investigation. The allegations are serious,” Minkler said. “I firmly believe that such a case requires the unequivocal support of federal law enforcement.”
When FBI agents went to arrest Hollin earlier this week at a Walmart Supercenter in Salem, Oregon, where he was working, he admitted he was not Andrew David Hall but was in fact Hollin, Minkler said.
Denise Bennett, a co-worker of Hollin’s at Walmart, said via email she never suspected Hollin was a fugitive.
“He seemed normal, an American good ole boy,” she said.
“We called him a southern gentleman. This is so devastating.”
Bennett said she had worked with Hollin for 15 years, and if he’s guilty of the crimes, she is glad he was caught, she said.
Hollin was taken into custody without incident, officials said.
“Federal law enforcement will spare no expense, no expense, to find someone like this and bring that person to justice,” Minkler added.
Greg Massa, FBI assistant special agent in charge, said Hollin’s wanted poster was sent to post offices and FBI field offices nationwide and put on the internet. Massa’s department nominated Hollin for inclusion in the FBI’s Top 10 most wanted list.
“This was not a cold case,” Massa said. “This was an active fugitive investigation.”
Massa said agents were sent to six foreign countries to follow leads.
“It wasn’t something that was on the back burner,” he said. “Every 90 days, we would look at the progress, think of innovative techniques we could utilize.”
He credited FBI agent Todd Prewitt of Seymour for sticking with the investigation.
“If not for the singular tenacity of our lead case agent, Todd Prewitt, this individual would still be free,” Massa said.
Massa said he was glad the FBI could take down Hollin’s wanted photo in the Indianapolis and Bloomington offices and replace it with the photo of Hollin being arrested.
Minkler also had a message to the victim, who is now in her late 20s.
“I cannot imagine being a victim of such a crime where the individual alleged to have perpetrated that crime is out there for 16 years,” he said. “I don’t know how you would process and deal with that.
“It is my firm hope that the work that we’ve all done together will finally bring some peace to the victim of this crime and to the family of the victim,” he said.
Minkler said Hollin will be transported back to the southern district of Indiana, and his office is prepared to fully cooperate with Seymour police and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office to continue the process of justice.
Jackson County Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis said she began working on the case back in 2007 when she took the job of chief deputy prosecutor.
“I started having contact with the FBI about this case, about Charley Hollin and what we could do to find him,” she said. “We’re now able to go forward with this case from a state prosecution perspective.
“I was able to speak with the father of the victim recently and find out that the victim has a profound sense of relief that this person was no longer out there on the street and this case could go forward and she could have some level of closure,” Travis added.
She hopes the case shows people that the wheels of justice keep moving.
“I’m hoping that this gives some level of hope to the victims who have not had their perpetrators captured yet,” she said. “That we don’t stop looking for them and that we continue to go forward and try to find people so that we can let the justice system work.”
Officials said they plan to look at places where Hollin has lived over the years to determine if there are similar unsolved crimes in those areas.