Mother Natureís Best Kept Secret is a secret no more! Widely known as a touristís haven, Belize has been considered a great spot to escape the ordinary and live obscurely, with not a care in the world. This past week, yet another fugitive chose to make Belize his hideout spot, but thanks to officials, another of Americaís Most Wanted was captured.
William Gilbert Lightner was caught in the coastal village of Chunox in the Corozal District on Friday, September 31st, 2005. However, a Belize magistrate released him, deciding he was not a flight risk. During the weekend, United States Marshal Patrick McDonald, along with the cooperation of Belize immigration officers, managed to re-arrest the six foot fugitive.
Lightner fled the USA with his wife, Marcia and it is suspected that the couple drove a van through Mexico on their way to Belize. According to Idaho Department of Correction Fugitive Recovery Agent Ron Mesler, the particulars of why the couple chose Belize and how they got into the country are still being pieced together. Mesler stated, ďWe are still trying to put all this together. We just donít know why they picked Belize, there are a lot of English speakers there, and itís a step away from Mexico. Itís got a tourism industry. Maybe they thought they could get jobs.Ē
Lightner served ten years of his twenty year sentence and was let out of prison in March 2005. The 43-year-old was one of 31 sex offenders in the state of Idaho classified as a violent sex offender. On Saturday, July 23rd, 2005, parole officers went to Lightnerís home only to discover that he was gone. Lightner, who has a documented history of indecent exposure in Idaho, New York and Pennsylvania, cut off his ankle global positioning system (GPS) tracking bracelet and took off.
In 1994, Lightner was arrested for molesting a child and officials reported that he even made one of his victims watch pornographic videos with him. Back in the US, Lightner will be charged with parole violation and failure to register as a sex offender; officials have not decided on whether he will face federal criminal charges for fleeing the country. However, since he violated his parole, the judge who originally sentenced him could send him back to prison.
Lightner is now being held in Houston while officials work to extradite him to Idaho.