Authorities have been searching for a child rapist who has been on the run for over ten years.
Daniel Leija, now 50, is a former school bus driver from Yakima County, who has had a warrant out for his arrest for first degree child rape in Sunnyside, WA between the years 1997-2002.
The two victims, also residents of Sunnyside, were both females under the age of fifteen during the five-year period in which the crime occurred.
In 2002, both females went to Sunnyside Police Department to report the rapes they endured over a five-year period. Police then uncovered trunks and backpacks filled with over 100 videotapes recording the assaults. Leija was arrested and charged with multiple counts of rape and exploitation of minors and was held on $250,00 bail. However, Yakima Superior Court Judge Heather Van Nuys reduced his bail to $60,000 and he was released after relatives came up with the lower amount.
He immediately fled the area after his bail-release and hasn’t been seen since.
According to U.S. Marshals, who eventually took over the case, Leija was last known to be in Mexico.
It is believed that he is living under a different identity and has most likely altered his appearance.
Back when his bail was reduced, Leija was facing 18 counts of first degree rape and molestation, eight counts of second degree rape and molestation, two counts of third degree rape and molestation, 12 counts of sexual exploitation and with jumping bail.
Taylor-Wylie is a woman who lived with Leija in Sunnyside prior to his arrant. She says all of the sexual assaults counts are for actions he took against her daughters over a five-year period. She said in 2002 her daughters complained about Leija’s sexual assaults.
Wylie contends that Leija has made return visits to Sunnyside to visit family. She said his family claims he has since drowned, which she calls a “blatant lie.”
Wylie’s daughters are now young adults but according to her, the wounds are still open.
“We try to go on, but the girls, they’re still drastically affected by it,” Taylor-Wylie said. “Anger, fear, tears… they’re so fragile.”
Taylor-Wylie says she and her four daughters, who now live in Bremerton, want to see Leija brought to justice.
Daniel Leija was recently featured on America’s Most Wanted, with the latest airing on October 12, 2012.
Age then: 40
Current Age: 50
Height/Weight: 5’7” tall 190 pounds
Hair (Color, Description, Facial Hair):
Yakima County , Sunnyside WA
Last Known Locations:
Yakima County , Sunnyside WA (and possibly Mexico)
Outdated mugshot photo of Leija with no facial hair
If you have any information regarding this case you’re asked to please contact: U.S. Marshals by calling 509-654-5060