Friday, October 1, 2004

Butler fugitive nabbed overseas

Man faced trial on 10 charges

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON - A Liberty Township man who skipped bail on 10 charges that included three rape counts made it all the way to Europe - but will be coming back to Butler County, authorities said Thursday.

Brian Stepp, 31, was arrested Wednesday in Cambridge, England, authorities said. Butler authorities said Stepp fled shortly before his June trial on charges that he impersonated a police officer to stop women and assault them. He is charged with three counts of rape, three counts of kidnapping, three counts of impersonating a police officer and one count of sexual battery.

"This is the first time someone's gone overseas and we've got him back," Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper said. "It's been nothing but a positive experience."

Stepp drove a car from Butler County to Toronto, took a flight to Amsterdam, and then a boat to England before settling in Cambridge, authorities said.

"We knew most of his steps," Butler County Chief Deputy Richard Jones said. "It takes a lot of cooperation. They've been looking for him night and day."

It is not known why Stepp went to England, Jones said, nor could authorities comment on any connections Stepp has in that country.

Local investigators enlisted help from the Gatwick, England, Airport police and the New Scotland Yard, who funneled information to police in Cambridge. Using a photo and flier, a Cambridge officer spotted Stepp entering a residence and arrested him, Jones said. Stepp was taken into custody without incident.

Stepp faces a series of court appearances in England before he will be released to U.S. authorities. It is hoped that he will return to the United States in two to three months, Jones said.

The investigation is continuing and others could face charges for assisting a fugitive, Jones said.

"The gathering of information was a piecemeal-by-piecemeal process and something was going on every week," Piper said.


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