2011-12-03 / Front Page


Local fugitive to be featured on ‘America’s Most Wanted’

Investigators have turned up the heat in their efforts to capture Joseph Chapman, who walked away from a work detail at the McKean County Jail in 2007 and continues to elude authorities.

His case is receiving national attention this month through a syndicated television show, “America’s Most Wanted,” which airs on the Lifetime Network (found locally on Zito Media cable channel 29). Upcoming airings of the program are planned for 8 pm and midnight on Friday, Dec. 10.

Chapman, 28, is a former resident of Emporium and Austin.

Emporium Police Department joined forces with the U.S. Marshal Service Fugitive Task Force and Pennsylvania State Police to pursue Chapman. Although his whereabouts remain a mystery, offificials have uncovered evidence resulting in new criminal charges against him for rape of a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a minor.

According to authorities, Chapman has made a habit of targeting single women with children. Police say he preys on their insecurities and low self-esteem -- or in some cases, developmental disabilities -- in order to establish relationships, typically using the internet.

He typically assumes a stay- at-home lifestyle, working on computers or other hands-on repair work. This allows him to stay home and watch children while their unsuspecting mother is at work.

He has been listed on the “America’s Most Wanted” website (amw.com) for several months. Inspector Steve Rowe from the U.S. Marshal’s Service said the higher profile that cases receive through America’s Most Wanted often brings information that leads to a suspect’s capture.

A week after Chapman’s escape, Emporium Borough Police filed felony charges against him, based on allegations that he sexually assaulted a child in the borough between November 2006 and April 2007.

Jail Warden Tim Woodruff, who is no longer serving in that capacity, faulted police for failing to notify him that the more serious charges were pending. Woodruff said he never would have allowed Chapman to serve on work detail if he had known.

He was serving time at Smethport for violating terms of his probation, stemming from a statutory sexual assault case in 2002.

Chapman is five-foot nine and has blue eyes. At the time of his escape, he was clean- shaven and weighed about 180 pounds. Chapman has an eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa, which causes him to squint frequently.

Pennsylvania CrimeStoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to his apprehension. Anyone with information should call tollfree 1-800-471-8477 or the call the Pa. State Police at (814) 778-5555.

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