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Wanted Utah man creates new life in Mexico, but cops find him anyway

Published June 18, 2013 10:14 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It didn't take Jesse Amos Bunker long to establish a new life in Mexico.

In less than five years, the 33-year-old had purportedly built a nice life for himself, complete with a wife and a 1-year-old child, said Sgt. Jason Randall, who works with the Utah County Sheriff's Office Fugitive Investigations Unit and the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT).

But Bunker also had a secret.

In March 2009, he had posted $20,000 bond for 10 first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. A few months later, he fled to Mexico. He had been hiding there since, police say.

This month, Bunker's past caught up with him as Utah County sheriff's deputies, Mexican authorities and JCAT closed in. He was arrested in Colima, Mexico, which is a small state on the Pacific coast.

"He was very surprised when he was arrested," Randall said. "He had no idea how he was found. … One minute he was living his life with his wife and child, and 24 hours later, he was sitting in the L.A. County Jail. So [the operation to capture him] worked really well."

Randall said he wasn't sure if Bunker's wife knew about the criminal charges.

On Monday, Bunker was returned to the Utah County Jail.

On Tuesday, a 4th District judge ordered him held on a $1 million cash-only bond for bail jumping.

Bunker, who was born and raised in America, couldn't resist using social media, Randall said. That helped investigators track his whereabouts over the past three years, Bunker said.

"It was very good work by my investigators," he said. "This could not have happened without the Marshal's Service. It was definitely a team effort right down the line."

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribjanelle