Convicted sex offender arrested in Kissimmee after faking own death



KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A convicted sex predator from Ohio was found hiding in Kissimmee, and authorities said a dog helped them find the suspect as he was hiding out.

Willard Wigfield, 32, was convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy in Ohio, but he never showed up for sentencing on July 8.

Instead, investigators said he attacked another child, cut off his GPS ankle monitoring device and dumped it into a river to fake a suicide.

"We believe he tried to make it appear he jumped in the river to try to deter our investigation," said Brian Fitzgibbon of the U.S. Marshals Service.

But the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Taskforce got word he'd driven to central Florida.

Investigators told Channel 9 they weren't surprised Wigfield fled to the Orlando area, because he thought he could blend in with all the tourists.

"He was looking for a place where an average person could go and blend in," said Fitzgibbon.

On Tuesday, an alert deputy spotted someone walking Wigfield's dog, so they followed the person and found Wigfield in a nearby parking lot about 6 p.m.

A K-9 gave chase and helped lead deputies to Wigfield's hiding spot in some nearby woods.

Video from an Osceola County Sheriff's Office helicopter shows deputies and U.S. marshals moving in on the suspect off Parkway Boulevard.

Investigators said they were very concerned about Wigfield being in the area. Because of his past crimes, authorities said they felt central Florida would be an easy place for Wigfield to target children on vacation.

Authorities also said Wigfield's sister was in on the plan, accused of renting a car that her brother used to drive from New Philadelphia, Ohio, to Kissimmee.

Wigfield's friend Robert Mahaffey was picked up earlier this month, accused of helping him hide.