Real Name: Reginald Joseph DePalma
Aliases: Reggie DePalma
Wanted For: Child Molestation
Missing Since: 1983
Details: Reggie DePalma was a Danbury, Connecticut fire-fighter and once a respected pillar of the community. In 1978, he organized and ran a local Explorer's Post for the youth of his community. His girlfriend "Connie" was a co-leader of the organization. It became a popular after school activity for many teenagers in the area. One of the teens, "Diane", felt that they were very nice and trustworthy people.
By 1981, the Explorer's Post grew to include fifteen girls and ten boys. They often met at the fire-station and were trained in first aid. Often, training was interrupted by emergency calls. The teens idolized DePalma and he became a role model for them. Another teen, "Terri", was very close with DePalma and his girlfriend.
In October, the group organized a haunted house to help raise money for an upcoming camping trip. While there, DePalma asked Terri, then thirteen, about having a boyfriend and having sex. He said that he wanted to teach her about it because he was her "friend'. At the time, she felt a little irked about what he had said. Connie came up to her and asked her come back to DePalma's apartment with her. She had Terri take a shower to get the makeup off of her face from the haunted house.
After the shower, she came into DePalma's bedroom, where he forced her to have sex with him while Connie watched. Tragically, Terri was not his first victim and would not be his last. Diane, also thirteen, was raped by DePalma. Over the next year, he continued to sexually abuse girls in the Explorer's Post. Finally, the girls that had been raped by DePalma got together in a group and one of them decided to tell her mother. Her mother immediately called the police.
Investigators questioned the girls and did everything they could to help them in their tragic situations. Several of them claimed that he forced them to drink alcohol before they were raped. When the truth came out from the girls, DePalma was arrested by police and charged with five counts of child molestation. His girlfriend Connie was questioned; she later pleaded guilty to risking injury to a minor and was given a five year sentence.
One year after the arrest, DePalma went on trial for the rapes. On the fifth day of the trial, he went to New Haven, Connecticut, to visit his sick mother and disappeared. His car was found in the hospital parking lot. The trial went on without him, and on October 25, 1983, he was convicted on all charges. He was sentenced in absentia to twenty years in prison. However, he remains at large and has never served a day of his sentence. His victims are still hoping that he will be caught before he abuses another person.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran May 19, 1993. It was also featured on America's Most Wanted.
Results: Captured. In the summer of 2000, an AMW viewer's tip led investigators to DePalma, who was arrested in Florida after seventeen years on the run. DePalma was living with a wife and three children, using the alias Lawrence Matteo. He was taken back to Connecticut and sentenced to twenty-one years in prison. He was released in 2014. As of January 2015, he is a registered sex offender in the state of Connecticut.
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