Missing kayaker arrested in Georgia after faking own death to evade rape charges, deputies say

TIFT COUNTY, Ga. — A missing kayaker has been found and arrested in south Georgia after authorities said he faked his death to evade rape charges in another state.

Melvin Emde’s son reported him missing after he allegedly went overboard and drowned while kayaking in the Mississippi River near Matis Road in Hahnville, Louisiana.

The next day, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office learned that Emde was supposed to be in court on the same day he was reported missing.

The sheriff’s office said the 41-year-old had pending charges of indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child by an adult in Brunswick County, North Carolina.

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Detectives learned Emde was wearing an ankle monitor as a condition of bail and that he had visited a Walmart in Louisiana and purchased two prepaid phones. They worked with North Carolina law enforcement and the United States Marshals Service to track the phones.

Emde was arrested on Sunday in Tift County.

The arrest happened early in the morning as a Georgia State Patrol officer attempted to a stop a motorcycle for not having a license plate. At that point, officials said Emde tried to speed away and ultimately crashed before he was taken into custody.


Emde allegedly gave law enforcement a fake name, but he was later fingerprinted.

“Now it’s time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Carolina,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Joshua Deroche with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985) 783-6807, (985) 783-1135, or jderoche@stcharlessheriff.org.

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