Real Name: William Eugene Hilliard
Aliases: Garlon Houston Russell, Rusty
Wanted For: Fraud, Rape, Child Molestation
Missing Since: September 1988
Details: In February 1988, Garlon "Rusty" Russell arrived at the Sunny Sands nudist resort in northeast Florida and asked to become a member. Although the nudist colony had stringent requirements for joining, namely that single men were usually ineligible, he managed to ingratiate himself with the colony's leaders and was awarded membership. He had told the owners that he had no family and that his parents were killed in a car crash, and when asked about last employment, he claimed to have been recently discharged from the U.S. Air Force. He claimed that their estate was in probate and that he'd be wealthy once it was settled.
Rusty had claimed to be a film buff and wooed investors into financing a video store that he opened in a nearby community. However, his friendly and caring facade was destroyed on August 28, 1988, when he was accused of molesting of an eleven-year-old girl in the nudist colony. He was soon arrested by the state police, charged with sexual battery. When questioned, he insisted it was just horseplay, that they were "wrestling" and that nothing sexual occurred. His friends in the nudist colony could not believe that he molested her, so they convinced the judge to release him on $25,000 bail. He convinced Bob Pickens, his landlord at the video store, to post his bond.
The nudist colony's owners, the Noonans, also tried to find money for Rusty's bail. However, they soon discovered that he had been lying to them about what he owned. They also discovered that he was having problems with his creditors and payments were past due. They, realizing that he had duped them, tried to contact the bonding agent. However, he was able to be released from prison before the investigators were notified of his fraudulent dealings.
Rusty was also able to convince Bob to buy the video store, claiming that his reputation had been ruined. Later, the landlord learned that he was the third person who bought Rusty's inventory. After he learned the truth, Bob tried unsuccessfully to get the bail revoked. After being released, Rusty sold his car to two separate individuals. He then rented another one and left the area; he never showed up for his court date.
Although fraud played a part in Rusty's status as a wanted man, police had said the major charge against him was the child rape, where he could face a death sentence. Recently, investigators used Air Force records to determine that his real identity is William Eugene Hilliard. He has previously been arrested in at least fourteen different states. He has gained more than half a million dollars from his scams. He is also wanted for fraud in Texas.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the September 27, 1989 episode. It was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Captured. Viewer's tips from South Carolina led to William's arrest just a day after the broadcast; he was living under the alias Ronald Kent. He was found guilty of rape, fraud, and child molestation, and sentenced to life in prison. The judge further recommended that due to the victim’s young age and his vicious and deceitful nature, he will never be eligible for parole.
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- Volusia Man Gets Life In Child Rape Case
- William Hilliard Sex Offender Profile