Frederick McLean. Courtesy U.S. Marshals Service

The U.S. Marshals Service said Friday a decomposing body found inside a South Carolina home is that of a man wanted for years in a San Diego child molestation case.

Frederick McLean, 70, was on the “most wanted” fugitive list for more than 16 years. His body was found after a concerned neighbor made a welfare check at his home in Seneca, SC.

On Nov. 15, an autopsy was conducted, and a positive identification was confirmed based on fingerprint analysis. No foul play is suspected in McLean’s death.

The fugitive was wanted by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department on multiple counts of sexual assault on a child and was deemed a high risk for sexually assaulting young girls.

One alleged victim, now an adult, reported McLean assaulted her more than 100 times, starting when she was five and ending about seven years later. An arrest warrant was issued for him in 2005.

“The discovery of Frederick McLean’s body marks an end to the manhunt, but the investigation continues,” said Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis.

The fugitive allegedly lived in the South Carolina home where his body was found for 15 years and was going by the alias “James Fitzgerald.”

“We wish McLean’s fate had been determined by a court of law 15 years ago,” said U.S. Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California. “The investigators working on this case never gave up. We hope McLean’s death brings some sense of closure for the victims and their families, especially knowing he can never hurt another child.”

U.S. Marshals and local authorities continue to investigate the case to determine if McLean received any help to avoid capture.

“During his years on the run McLean used numerous aliases and also lived in Poughkeepsie, NY, and Anderson, SC,” said Stafford. “Because of his alleged crimes, we are concerned there may be other victims out there.”

Anyone with information related to this case should contact the nearest U.S. Marshals Service office or local law enforcement authority.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.