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Fake ID tips off investigators to suspect in Indiana sex crime

The Crystal River man tried to assume the identity of a long-deceased child, officials say.

By JOHN FRANK
Published August 12, 2006


A 39-year-old Crystal River man wanted in connection with a sex crime involving a 14-year-old girl in Indiana was arrested Thursday by the Florida Highway Patrol.

After a year on the run, David Thomas Chandler was tracked down after he tried to assume the identity of a child who died more than 35 years ago, authorities say.

The patrol arrested him at Triton Lumber & Marine Construction Supply Co. in Homosassa Springs, where he worked. Chandler was charged with driver's license fraud, title fraud and identity theft, according to patrol spokesman Larry Coggins.

Chandler was being held at the Citrus County jail in lieu of $30,000 bail while he awaits extradition to Indiana.

In February, Chandler fraudulently obtained a driver's license in Crystal River by using another person's name, according to Florida and Indiana investigators. He then used that identity when buying a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder and a 1999 Tracker boat and trailer, they said.

The transactions caught the attention of driver's license officials during a routine check. Investigators said the name, which was not disclosed, was of a Florida child who died in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Few other details were released, and it is unclear how Chandler obtained the name.

During the investigation, Florida authorities found an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor stemming from an incident in Spencer County, Ind.

Indiana State Police Detective Rob Priest said one of Chandler's relatives told police that Chandler had a two-year sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. He skipped town in October 2005, shortly before the warrant was issued, Priest said.

Indiana authorities said Chandler went to Iraq as a civilian contractor and then came to Florida, where they lost track of him.

Court records show Chandler was arrested in 1993 by the Marion County Sheriff's Office for breaking into a car and stealing $345 worth of items inside. In January 1994, he entered a no contest plea and was sentenced to three years' probation.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or 860-7312.