Mentor man charged with rape is wanted fugitive

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jan 15, 2016

U.S. Marshals and Mentor police are asking for information in the twelve-year search for Juan Plass, 31, who is wanted on a felony rape warrant for an incident from 2003. 

Investigators said Plass was 18 years old at the time of the incident and was staying with relatives at an apartment complex in Mentor. 

Mentor police told that investigators were called to a local hospital on July 5, 2003 to interview a 20-year-old alleged rape victim. 

“According to her allegations, at some point she was left alone with Plass on the patio on this apartment and he penetrated her with his fingers and then had intercourse with her,” Detective Lt. Tim Allen of the Mentor Police Department said. “The entire time, according to her allegation, she was saying no to him.” 

Plass told detectives at the scene that he and the victim had met each other once before. 

He consented to an interview but when a warrant was issued through the Mentor Municipal Court, police said he fled. 

Mentor police tried to locate Plass at his last known location in Highland Heights. 

“We made contact with those people who advised that he had left and gone to New York and back to Puerto Rico,” Allen said. 

Mentor Police couldn’t chase Plass down in Puerto Rico and the case went cold for nearly a decade.

That’s why the U.S. Marshal Service stepped in back in 2012. 

Deputy U.S. Marshall Bill Boldin told that the case stuck out because it was as if Plass had disappeared. 

“There basically were no records of this person anywhere,” Boldin said. “He never renewed a driver's license, we weren’t able to find any records of his or any indications whatsoever where we might be able to locate him, which is very unusual.” 

Marshals crisscrossed the continent, interviewing friends and family in Northeast Ohio, New York and Puerto Rico. 

Family in Puerto Rico told investigators that Plass had been murdered. 

“That would have been a very easy close for us. We just asked them where the crime occurred so we can contact that police agency and get police reports,” Boldin said. 

But a thorough search turned up no records of Plass’ death. When Marshals confronted the family, Boldin said they gave conflicting responses. 

“It is our working theory at this time that he is alive and well and he is still in contact with his family,” he said. 

Boldin said it would have been very easy for Plass to assume a new identity in Puerto Rico and fly under the radar for many years. 

Plass would be 31 years old today and police acknowledge that he probably looks much different than his 18-year-old picture used in warrant posters. 

Boldin told that investigators are working off of pictures of Plass’ 34-year-old brother, who was arrested in Northeast Ohio in 2013 on a warrant from New York. 

The brothers looked similar as teens and investigators believe pictures of Plass’ brother could be the key to uncovering what Juan Plass might look like today. 

Anyone with information concerning Juan Plass can contact the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-4WANTED (1-866-492-6833).  

You may also anonymously text in a tip by texting the keyword "WANTED" and your tip to TIP411 (847411), or you can send a web tip here

Reward money is available and tipsters may remain anonymous.