LAS VEGAS (AP) – A fugitive accused in the videotaped molestation of a 3-year-old girl was arrested quietly during a traffic stop, telling the officer, “I’m tired of running,” police said.

Chester “Chet” Arthur Stiles, 37, was scheduled for a hearing today. He was pulled over late Monday in Henderson for not having a license plate and admitted his identity after police said his license looked suspicious, authorities said.

“This is an answer to our prayers, actually,” Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said. “He should be off the street. In our opinion, he is a predator.”

Stiles had been wanted since Oct. 5 on warrants issued for 21 felony charges in connection with the acts seen on the videotape. The charges include lewdness with a minor, sexual assault and attempted sexual assault, Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito said.

The videotape, found in the rural Nevada town of Pahrump last month, had prompted an equally intense search for the young girl who appeared in it. Police with little to go on had encouraged news organizations to broadcast her haunting image. When the now-7-year-old was found on Sept. 28, authorities shifted their resources to finding Stiles.

Henderson police Officer Mike Dye said he stopped Stiles at about 7 p.m. on a busy thoroughfare just outside Las Vegas driving a white sedan with no license plates.

“He said, ‘I’m Chester Stiles, the guy you’re looking for,”‘ Dye said. “He said, ‘I’m tired of running.”‘

Stiles, who had been portrayed by authorities as a dangerous, knife-wielding survivalist, provided an expired California drivers license with a photo that Dye said looked “suspicious.”

“The picture on the license didn’t quite match the gentleman in the vehicle,” Dye said.

After further questioning, the officer said Stiles revealed his true name. Dye said Stiles cooperated and didn’t resist. Dye called for backup and another officer arrived to handcuff Stiles.

Stiles was booked at the Clark County jail. He had not yet hired a lawyer, police said.

Stiles was already wanted on state and federal warrants in a case alleging he groped a 6-year-old girl in 2003. Police had received hundreds of tips on Stiles, who they believed might be dangerous and possibly armed based on earlier arrests.

Elaine Thomas, who said she was an ex-girlfriend of Stiles, called authorities when his picture appeared on the news, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. His truck had been in her driveway until this past weekend, when authorities picked it up, she said.

She said she never imagined he was capable of the acts on the tape.

“As far as I knew, he was interested in older, heavyset women because that was the line of women he dated, up to and including myself,” she said. “You don’t imagine someone going from dating older, heavyset women to doing something that horrid to a child.”

Stiles’ previous arrests included charges of assault, battery, resisting a police officer, auto theft, leaving the scene of an accident and contempt of court, authorities said.

He was convicted in 1999 in Las Vegas of carrying a concealed weapon, and in 2001 of conspiracy to commit grand larceny. Police were also looking into an allegation that he had sexually assaulted a young girl in 2001.

Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett had said he was told Stiles was a “survivalist type” who always carried knife and had a Navy SEAL background.

The man who turned in the videotape, Darrin Tuck, 26, remains in custody after appearing Monday in a Pahrump court on a probation violation charge. He is due to appear next Monday on a felony pornography possession charge, his lawyer said.

Tuck told Nye County sheriff’s investigators he found the tape beneath a fallen sign in the desert. DeMeo alleged that Tuck kept the video for several months and showed it to other people before turning it over to detectives.

“We’re hoping that Stiles cooperates with police and this will illuminate what we’ve been saying from the beginning,” said Tuck’s lawyer, Chris Rasmussen. “Mr. Tuck had no involvement with Mr. Stiles.”

AP-ES-10-16-07 1044EDT


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