Police catch accused child abuser hiding in rural Idaho

By John L. Braese

And Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

Police on Tuesday arrested fugitive Douglas R. Villines in Idaho after a two-week hunt to find and arrest him on charges from Malheur County of sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said Villines, 42, was arrested at a home in the rural area of Mann Creek, about 10 miles north of Weiser.

Wolfe said law enforcement tracked Villines to the house, ordered him out late Tuesday afternoon, and he refused. Police officers entered, searched, and found Villines, taking him into custody without incident.

Douglas R. Villines was lodged in the Washington County Jail in Weiser after he was arrested on Malheur County charges in the rural area of Mann Creek. (Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

A large police team was deployed for the arrest, Wolfe said. That included the High Desert Task Force that includes the sheriff’s office and Ontario Police Department. Wolfe said that also participating in the arrest was the Greater Idaho Fugitive Task Force, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Ada and Canyon County sheriff’s offices, and city police from Boise, Nampa and Garden City.

Bail for Villines, of Nyssa, has been set at $500,000.

The pursuit of Villines drew intense public attention on social media. Posts by the Malheur Enterprise reached more than 100,000 and generated tips to police. Citizens reported seeing him in Weiser and Fruitland while associates said he had fled Arkansas, where he has family.

Det. Dan Perkins, lead investigator for the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, two weeks ago took the unusual step of posting his own remarks on Facebook, urging Villines to surrender and warning that anyone who helped him evade arrest could face felony prosecution.

The sheriff’s office has been seeking Villines since he was indicted last month on three counts of first-degree sex abuse, two counts of first-degree attempted rape, two counts of unlawful penetration, and one count each of first-degree sodomy and failing to report as a sex offender. The indictment said the abuse of the girl occurred over three days last October.

Amanda Benjamin, Malheur County deputy district attorney, described the crime in a court filing seeking to hold Villines in custody without bail or with high bail if he was arrested.

“The mother of the child initially expressed disbelief in the disclosures of her child and has taken actions to punish the child,” Benjamin said in the court filing. The girl is now in the custody of the state Department of Human Services.

The girl told authorities the abuse happened while her mother was at work, Benjamin wrote.

“The child described being hit with a belt repeatedly,” the court document recounted. “The child also described hearing Doug talk about stabbing someone he was friends with in prison.”

In 2007, he was charged in Malheur County with first-degree rape of a child and subsequently pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse, according to Benjamin’s filing.

He has served sentences in Oregon and Idaho prisons. He was released from the South Idaho Correctional Institution on April 4, 2017.