A detective in Florida slapped handcuffs on William Brester several weeks ago, ending his seven-year run from the law.
Prosecutors in Whatcom County issued an arrest warrant in 2007, when Brester failed to register as a sex offender and then slipped out of the state.
But any plan to send Brester back to Whatcom County last month to face justice was halted when Marion County (Fla.) Sheriff's detectives received a notice that prosecutors there did not want Brester back.
"We will probably quash the warrant and mark him as moved," an official from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office wrote in an email to his counterparts in Marion County.
That's because the nationwide arrest warrant that Whatcom County issued for Brester came with a catch â?? it's a "no extradition" warrant.
Whatcom County prosecutors can check a box on a warrant that says they will likely not bring a fugitive back to face charges if that suspect is caught outside of Washington State. And nearly every nationwide felony warrant that Whatcom County enters into the national warrant database is similar to Brester's â?? a "no extradition" warrant.
A joint investigation by the KING 5 Investigators and USA Today found 676 active felony warrants from Whatcom County in the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, nearly all of which have the "no extradition" box checked, including warrants for rapists, kidnappers, homicide suspects and convicted child molesters.
Other Washington counties like Pierce and Kitsap also have high numbers of "no extradition" warrants, but Whatcom County had the most.
Marion County detectives said Brester's past was a secret in Florida â?? even from the woman he married in the Sunshine State. His wife, whom public records show he married in July 2007, had no idea he was a fugitive sex offender.
One phone call led to Brester's arrest. It was a phone call that probably could have been made many years ago by Whatcom County Sheriff's officials.
While researching Whatcom County records, the KING 5 Investigators noted that Brester's entry on the Sheriff's sex offender website said that Brester was "non-compliant" and "records indicate he may be residing in Florida."
A basic public records search by KING 5 revealed that Brester was living openly in Summerfield, Fla., where he owned a house and had a driver's license.
A call from KING 5 was the first time the Marion County Sheriff's department had any inkling that Bill Brester was in their jurisdiction.
"(We) easily located him," said Detective Johnnie Scheib of the Marion County Sheriff's Sex offender unit.
Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks said records don't show when his detectives learned about the lead in Florida. But he said they may not have pursued it because Brester is a lower risk, level 1 sex offender.
"We certainly don't want to see that happen," said Parks. "Unfortunately, you're going to have cases that are a lower level of priority that may fall through the cracks."
Parks said the department is now reviewing all cases of "non-complaint" sex offenders in Whatcom County to be certain that there's not another one similar to Besters.
"In cases where they can they're making contacts with jurisdictions and reaching out to see if they can find out either where these folks are or make sure that they register in their new location," said Parks.
Brester was convicted of molesting an 8-year old girl â?? a family friend â?? in 1993. He's required to register as a sex offender for life.
In his Florida neighborhood, authorities said it appears he abided by the law and hid out in plain sight. Detectives said he had regular contact with his wife's grandchildren, but they're not aware of any wrongdoing.
Brester is now listed on the Marion County sex offender website, as he waits in jail to face charges of failing to register as a sex offender in Florida.
Whatcom County Prosecutor David McEachran previously told KING 5 that his county avoids extradition in all but the most serious cases because of the expense involved in bringing fugitives back from far away states.
Read the original story: Washington county chases very few fugitives past state line