Missing kayaker arrested in Georgia after allegedly faking death in Louisiana

ST. CHARLES PARISH, La. (WGNO) — An Oklahoma man was arrested in Georgia on Sunday after he allegedly faked his own death in August during a kayaking trip in Louisiana.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said Melvin Emde, 41, of Talihina, Oklahoma, was reported missing by his son just after 12 a.m. on Aug. 7. He had reportedly gone overboard and drowned while kayaking on the Mississippi River near Matis Road.

The next day, Champagne said deputies learned that Emde was wanted on indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child charges in Brunswick County, North Carolina. He was due in court the same day.

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“We immediately became quite suspicious that this may have been a faked accidental drowning
and death in order for Mr. Emde to escape charges in Brunswick County, North Carolina.
However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off,” said Champagne.

According to Champagne, investigators learned Emde was wearing an ankle monitor and had purchased two prepaid phones from the Boutte Walmart store the day of his reported drowning.

Deputies worked with authorities in North Carolina and the U.S. Marshals Service to track the phones. They said Emde used one phone discreetly and turned it on for short periods of time. An initial search focused on Oklahoma until it became clear the phones weren’t being used anymore.

Then, on Sunday around 3:30 a.m., Champagne said a Georgia State Highway Patrol officer tried to pull over a motorcyclist for not having a license plate. The driver allegedly fled, crashed and was eventually arrested.

Champagne said the driver gave a fake name, but when he was fingerprinted, officers identified him as Melvin Emde.

“Now it’s time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Carolina,” said Champagne.

Anyone with further details about this case can call Detective Joshua Deroche with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985)-783-6807.

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