(CNN)A former Louisiana children’s TV show personality known as “Mr. Wonder” was arrested in California on charges that he sexually abused children at a camping retreat in 1979, police in central Louisiana said.
U.S. Marshals and San Diego County authorities arrested 76-year-old Frank John Selas III on Monday at his home in Bonita, near San Diego, after he had been on the run for nearly four decades, Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Lt. Tommy Carnline said.
The sexual abuse accusations date from a camping retreat in Kisatchie National Forest in Gardener, Louisana, in June 1979. Some children who had attended the event told their parents when they got home that Selas had sexually abused them.
The parents called police, and arrest warrants were issued, but Rapides Parish deputies could not find Selas at home or work. His wife said he left in the family car, which was found a day later in Dallas.
Selas had left the country for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and two detectives continued to hunt for him over the years, Carnline said.
Selas’ whereabouts were unknown until two weeks ago, when police received information that led U.S. Marshals to set up surveillance that led to Selas’ arrest in California on two counts of obscene behavior with a juvenile.
Because the investigation is still ongoing, police are not at liberty to discuss the information they received, Carnline told CNN.
After Selas’ arrest, investigators learned that he had returned to the United States in the 1980s and lived in multiple places, including Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts, as well as Chicago and the San Diego area.
Selas and his wife were living together, Carnline said.
He used aliases, including “Frank John Szeles,” after his return to the U.S., police said. Carnline said Selas legally changed his last name to Szeles in San Diego County around 1992.
Selas has a court appearance Wednesday afternoon in San Diego, and is awaiting extradition to Louisiana.