FBI Arrests Rhode Island Fugitive in Washington State
BOSTON, MA—Today, the FBI arrested James William Bell, 61, in Spokane Valley, Washington, after evading authorities for more than 10 years. Bell is wanted for the alleged molestation of three young girls, then aged 9 to 13, in Middletown, Rhode Island. The molestation allegedly occurred while Bell was working as a gymnastics coach at a local YMCA.
Bell was arrested on a federal arrest warrant issued in January 2006, when the United States District Court of Rhode Island charged Bell with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP). Bell was due to appear for a pre-trial conference in July 2004, to face numerous counts of child molestation in Newport, Rhode Island Superior Court. He had been released on bail after having been previously arrested in Allyn, Washington in August 2003, and returned to Rhode Island to face the molestation charges.
Bell is listed on Rhode Island State Police’s website as one of the state’s top ten fugitives, and is also listed on the FBI’s website.
Although the trail went cold over the years, investigators never gave up their hunt for Bell and recently got the break they needed. Earlier this week, FBI investigators in the Boston Division received a tip that Bell may be in the Spokane area. FBI special agents in the FBI’s Seattle Division confirmed his location and took Bell into custody without incident.
“Mr. Bell thought he could run away and hide from the law, but he underestimated the FBI’s resolve to track him down,” said Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division. “We’d like to thank everyone who had the courage to call us with their tips as well as our law enforcement partners for their outstanding cooperation.”
Bell will be held in Washington state, pending extradition to Rhode Island where he will be prosecuted on state charges.
The FBI continues to work with local law enforcement to apprehend violent criminals charged with state crimes who then flee the jurisdiction interstate or internationally. Photos and descriptions of many fugitives wanted by the FBI can be found at www.fbi.gov.