- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A 67-year-old man convicted on child sex charges in Florida has been sent back to southeast Louisiana to face charges that he raped a girl there 30 years ago, the Plaquemines Parish sheriff’s office said Wednesday.

Investigators believe Joseph Gable Wood Sr. may have other victims along the Gulf Coast and as far away as Montana and Alaska, and want to hear from them, said Cmdr. Eric Becnel.

“Hopefully this will encourage other victims to come forward and find closure on a terrible chapter in their lives,” he said in a phone interview from Belle Chasse, a suburb of New Orleans.

Becnel said a Louisiana woman in her 40s has told investigators that Wood abused her from the time she was 5 years old until she was 14, threatening to kill her if she told anyone. She was interviewed after a relative went to deputies, he said.

He said investigators have rape evidence, which he cannot discuss because the case is not yet in court.

It was not clear Wednesday whether Wood has an attorney who could comment. The public defender’s office said he refused its service. District Attorney Charles Balley says he expects to learn Wood’s attorney’s name at a bond hearing Friday.

Becnel said Wood was extradited last week from Florida, where a Bay County jury convicted him in January of molesting a 13-year-old girl after Wood’s wife found him engaged in a sex act with the child. Wood was sentenced to 15 years at hard labor and ordered to register as a sexual predator once he gets out of prison.

Wood also has served time for fondling a 13-year-old friend of his daughter’s in 1992. He was convicted in 1993, won a reversal, pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to 4½ years with credit for time served, according to a news release from Sheriff Lonnie Greco.

Becnel said Wood lived many places while working for a towboat company, including White Sulphur Springs, Montana; Sand Point Island, Alaska; Bogalusa, Port Sulphur, and Morgan City, Louisiana; Pascagoula and Lumberton, Mississippi; and in Florida, the Panama City area and Apalachicola, where Wood grew up.

Becnel said the sheriff’s office has had a warrant for Wood’s arrest since March 2014, but he refused extradition. Deputies got a governor’s warrant to bring him back to Plaquemines Parish but held off on it until the Florida charges were resolved.

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