Fugitive ex-Guardsman nabbed in Spain, fled charges of felony sex with minor

2013-09-17T23:39:00Z 2013-12-24T21:16:31Z Fugitive ex-Guardsman nabbed in Spain, fled charges of felony sex with minorBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
September 17, 2013 11:39 pm  • 

A former Montana Army National Guard soldier charged with felony sex crimes against an underage girl has been detained by authorities in Spain.

Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher confirmed reports that Jeffrey Lane Wenzel, 38, had been


Wenzel was first charged in June 2012 with a felony sex assault crime for activity that began, according to his admissions recounted in an affidavit by prosecutors, when the girl was about 13 years old.

In November 2012, Wenzel was charged additionally with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor related following his admissions that he enticed the girl to send inappropriate photographs of herself via text message, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors in District Court in Helena.

Wenzel pleaded not guilty, was free on $50,000 bail and faced a Jan. 22 trial when he apparently fled the area, according to prosecutors.

He left a note to his wife, to whom he was married in 2012, that he could not get a fair trial, according to a prosecutor’s affidavit, and sent a text message Jan. 15 to his commanding officer in the Guard in Butte that he would not be coming back to work.

Lewis and Clark County prosecutors added a felony bail jumping charge and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest with a bond of $500,000.

On Jan. 30, federal authorities added another felony charge, unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Wenzel’s whereabouts remained unknown until his capture in Spain. Gallagher said he believed Wenzel was apprehended Sept. 9.

Circumstances surrounding his capture were unclear. But a person identifying himself in an email to the Independent Record as Javier Jimenez Costa, a reporter with the newspaper Ultima Hora on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, said Wenzel was arrested in Megaluf, a resort area of Mallorca. Jiminez said Wenzel had been working in a bar.

A story in another Spanish newspaper indicated authorities arrested a pederast (“un pederasta”) from Montana, identified only by his initials, J.L.W. That article pegged the site of the arrest as Palma Nova, which is a beachside resort town in the Megaluf area.

At the time of his initial arrest, Wenzel was a sergeant first class with the Montana Army National Guard stationed in Butte.

MANG spokesman Maj. Tim Crowe said after Wenzel’s initial disappearance that he was considered AWOL, which included a suspension of pay. He said Tuesday Wenzel is no longer a member of the Guard.

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