Saturday, 25 May 2024

Longtime fugitive captured in Kelseyville

KELSEYVILLE – Sheriff's deputies this week arrested a man who has been a fugitive from justice for nearly three decades.


John Arthur McKenzie, 57, has been living in Upper Lake but officials from Virginia have been looking for him for years, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


McKenzie was paroled in 1979 after serving time in prison for exploding a railroad bridge in Massachusetts, Bauman said.


Bauman reported that deputies arrested McKenzie early Monday morning on Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa.


Deputies responded to the resort on a report of a man annoying a 13-year-old girl and her aunt, according to Bauman. Upon their arrival, deputies found Konocti Harbor security officers had a man detained, who had identified himself as 57-year-old Jeffrey Arthur Woodward of Upper Lake.


Bauman said the girl and her aunt told deputies that they were standing near the fountain in front of the lodge when the man approached them and initiated a conversation, asking them where they were from. The two walked away from the man but then he approached them again, asking them where the bathrooms were.


The woman and her niece directed the man to the bathrooms and a short time later, he again approached them and allegedly started asking them if they wanted to “fool around,” Bauman said.


McKenzie was told by the woman to cease his advances and to get away from them but he persisted, asking the girl her age, insisting that she had to be 18 when she told him she was not, and continually asking the two if they wanted to “fool around.” Bauman said when the two walked away from the man to find a security guard, he followed them and was subsequently detained by security.


Bauman said deputies found McKenzie to be intoxicated and belligerent when they attempted to question him. He denied annoying the two female, and when he attempted to walk away from the deputies, he was placed under arrest.


Deputies transported him to the Lake County Jail where he was booked for misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age, Bauman said.


It was during the booking process that jail staff became suspicious of the man, who Bauman said was evasive in providing information to booking officers and hesitant to look at the camera for his booking photo.


When his fingerprints were submitted electronically to the Department of Justice, that agency notified the jail there was no record for Jeffrey Arthur Woodward, which made correctional staff increasingly suspicious about the identity he was providing, according to Bauman.


It was a short time later that the jail received another notification confirming the staff's suspicions: Bauman said the Federal Bureau of Investigation database matched the man's prints with those of another subject who was wanted for a federal parole violation.


Bauman reported that, as a result of extensive followup with the FBI and the US Marshal’s Office, jail staff were able to confirm the man's actual name was John Arthur McKenzie and that he in fact had been a federal parolee at large for nearly 30 years out of the state of Virginia.


McKenzie had been convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for federal offenses relating to the explosion of a railroad bridge in Massachusetts in 1972, Bauman said.


In 1979, McKenzie was paroled but eight months later a warrant was issued for his arrest due to an alleged parole violation, said Bauman. McKenzie has apparently been on the run and evading authorities ever since.


Bauman said McKenzie is currently being held without bail until he is either extradited by the US Marshal’s Service or a disposition is reached by the Lake County Superior Court on his local charges.


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