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(CNN)Update: Stoeser's remains found
This story was originally reported July 20, 2014.
Former U.S. soldier Kevin Patrick Stoeser pleaded guilty in 2003 to child sexual assault and child pornography charges and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. While he was on supervised probation at a halfway house in 2011, he was sent back to prison after engaging in electronic communications with underage girls. In August 2013, Stoeser was transferred to the Austin Transitional Center, a halfway house in Texas. Two months later, staff members allegedly caught Stoeser using a smart phone which authorities later found to have dozens of images of underage children. After the discovery, Stoeser immediately fled the facility through an emergency door exit and has not been seen since. The U.S. Marshals Service added Stoeser to its 15 most wanted fugitives in 2014, offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Kevin Patrick Stoeser, 41
- Sex-based offenses involving minors
- On the run since October 2013
- Confirmed dead November 2014
Stoeser was born in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, in December 1972 to a mother who was raped by her stepfather when she was 13 years old. He joined the army when he was 21 and quickly moved up the military ranks to sergeant. A few years later, Stoeser struck up a relationship with a 16-year-old girl and within months, the two were married (because she was not legally old enough to marry on her own, he had to get permission from her parents) and had a daughter. Not long after, she left him citing verbal and emotional abuse and infidelity.
His military career ended with a dishonorable discharge following his 2003 conviction. Stoeser spent eight years in Fort Leavenworth's military prison before he was sent to a halfway house with probation supervision in Rapid City, South Dakota, a couple of hours drive from his hometown of Fort Pierre. The Internet and electronic communication had come a long way since he was incarcerated in 2003 and Stoeser quickly picked up on Facebook, which he allegedly used to reach out to teenagers in Fort Pierre.
When Stoeser sent a Facebook friend request to teenager Tory Deal in 2011, neither she nor her mother, who went to school with Stoeser, thought much of it. Tory's mother, Kara Deal, knew Kevin's family in Fort Pierre and remembered him from high school as kind of "geeky." And then Stoeser's messages started getting more frequent and personal.
Tory Deal ignored the messages, until her friends at school said they were also getting messages from someone named Kevin Stoeser telling them how pretty they were and asking to hang out. Tory told her mom and a Google search quickly revealed that Stoeser was a high-risk sex offender who had spent time in prison for raping a young girl.
Kara Deal immediately warned her daughter to block all communication with Stoeser, and alerted police. Stoeser was sent back to prison for 18 months for violating his parole terms before he was released to a halfway house in Austin, Texas, where he escaped in October 2013.
After Stoeser's appearance on "The Hunt with John Walsh," his remains were discovered by a dog in Austin, Texas in September 2014. Two months later, DNA tests confirmed it was Stoeser.