A recent tip led the FBI to Nicaragua, where authorities arrested the former D.C. private school teacher who took Osama bin Laden’s place on the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, officials said Tuesday.
Eric Justin Toth, 31, was ordered held without bond in federal court in the District on Tuesday afternoon on charges of production and possession of child pornography. He was arrested Saturday in Esteli, Nicaragua, after authorities received the tip two days earlier that led them to Central America.
“The information was of such a quality that it led us directly to Eric Toth in Nicaragua,” Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington field office, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Mr. Toth had been on the run from police in the District and Maryland since 2008 and was named to the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in April 2012, taking the spot on the list that was made available when bin Laden was killed in May 2011.
A former third-grade teacher at Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School, Mr. Toth was sought after a fellow teacher found sexually explicit photos on a school-owned camera Mr. Toth had been using in June 2008.
U.S. Attorney for the District Ronald C. Machen Jr. said the camera contained many images that you would expect to see on a teacher’s camera, including students in a classroom. But it also contained images that would be “any parent’s worst nightmare” — pornographic images involving a young boy and a video of an adult male fondling the boy.
“We look forward to the process of holding Mr. Toth accountable in a court of law and of seeking justice for that young victim and his family,” Mr. Machen said.
Mr. Toth was reportedly escorted off the property at Beauvoir after the photos were found and had not been seen since. Authorities found his car at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport along with a note that implied he had committed suicide in a lake near the airport.
Mr. Toth was charged with producing child pornography in Maryland and elsewhere in U.S. District Court in Maryland, and with possessing child pornography in U.S. District Court in the District, and warrants were issued for his arrest in August 2008.
The production charge carries a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. The possession charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Ms. Parlave said officials would continue searching for other victims.
The FBI said the arrest marks the 469th since the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list was established in March 1950.