An Arkansas man who fled to Canada before standing trial for raping his teen daughter had allegedly crossed the border undetected with his wife and four children before his arrest earlier this month.
CBC News reported Thursday that the father fled the country in May before he was to stand trial in Polk County for four counts of rape. Documents related to his arrest warrant stated that Canada Border Services agents waved him, his wife, and four of their six children—who were also considered endangered—across Manitoba’s border on May 15, only checking the couple’s ID, and not asking to see ID for the children in the vehicle.
While CBC News didn’t identify the suspect, local news station KFSM identified him as Chad Voelkel, 38. U.S. Marshals said he and his wife, Stephanie Voelkel, were apprehended in Manitoba, Canada, on July 10. Their four children were reportedly placed in the custody of Canadian officials.
The Mena Star reported that weeks after an arrest warrant was issued for Chad Voelkel for failure to appear, authorities charged his wife with permitting the abuse of a minor. She was criminally charged after investigation revealed she had fled with her four minor children, which Chad Voelkel was barred from seeing in light of the rape allegations.
Surveillance cameras reportedly caught the family crossing the border in an SUV hauling a utility trailer on the evening of May 15.
“The vehicle in which they crossed the border had tinted windows,” a June 10 affidavit obtained by CBC News stated. “[Canada Border Services Agency] border officers didn’t confirm whether there were minors traveling with [them]; they did not obtain any identification from minors.”
Facing criticism, a border agency spokesperson recently declined to comment on the Arkansas case but said officers made a decision based on the information they had at the time. While an arrest warrant was issued after Chad Voelkel allegedly entered Canada, Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer charged that border agents should’ve seen he was arrested and charged with rape in January and barred his entry into Canada.
The news outlet reported that authorities traced the family to Canada in late May after $800 was transferred to a location in Manitoba. Chad Voelkel faces 10 years to life if convicted of raping his daughter.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast.
[Featured image: Chat and Stephanie Voelkel/KATV video screengrab]