Local News

Man on the run after guilty verdict in Wake child sex case found dead

Posted May 11, 2018 11:17 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— A Triangle man who fled from a Wake County courtroom during his trial for indecent liberties with a child was found dead in South Carolina after he apparently committed suicide, authorities said.

A Wake County jury on Friday convicted Shawn Walters, 48, of Morrisville, on 14 counts listed in his indictment, but he fled during the trial Thursday and had been on the run ever since. Law enforcement authorities found Walters at his parents' home in Bonneau, South Carolina, which is about 40 miles north of Charleston, during the execution of a search warrant, Morrisville police said in a written statement.

Authorities did not immediately disclose how Walters took his own life or if anyone else was in the residence at the time of the incident.

Walters had been on trial in connection with multiple counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor from eight years ago. The jury returned the verdict Friday morning even as law enforcement authorities were searching for Walters.

An ankle monitoring bracelet that Walters had been wearing was apparently cut off and found on the side of the road in Cary, according to the Wake County judge overseeing the case.

Walters, who had put up a $1.15 million bond, had asked to go to the bathroom during the trial and never returned, authorities said. The trial began Monday, and jurors had begun their deliberations on Thursday.

"My client left the courtroom, and since then we've had no contact with him," said Ryan Willis, the lawyer representing Walters.

Morrisville police had called in the FBI, the Wake County Sheriff's Office, Cary police and Raleigh-Durham International Airport police to help find Walters. On Friday, Morrisville police searched his home on Walton Woods Drive, checking through mail and electronic devices.

Prosecutors had said earlier that they worried that Walters may be suicidal.

Charges were filed against Walter in 2014 after he was accused of taking indecent liberties with a 13-year-old boy.

According to investigators, Walters had been accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy and making him watch pornography. The search warrant obtained at the time also accused Walters of giving the underage boy a flash drive with pornographic videos on it.

During the trial, prosecutors had said Walters recorded the teen on hidden cameras placed in a bathroom at Walters' home.

Law enforcement authorities arrested Walters in May 2014.

The mother of the victim told WRAL News that they suspected Walters would go on the run.

"There's not a sense of complete closure yet," she said. "But we're not shocked either. We had a feeling all week that he would disappear."