Solar Eclipse Helps Police Catch Sex Offender (Photos)

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An Iowa man who was wanted on sex offense charges is in custody thanks to the solar eclipse.

United States Marshals arrested Ladarius Martez Blue, 26, on Aug. 21 after he emerged from a Cedar Rapids residence in order to get a look at the eclipse.

A media release from the marshal service stated that Blue was wanted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) for failing to register as a sex offender. His whereabouts had been unknown since the beginning of June, according to The Gazette.

The U.S. Marshals Northern Iowa Fugitive Task Force (NIFTF) had been searching for Blue as part of their "Operation Most Wanted" campaign -- an initiative to locate and apprehend individuals from the state's sex offender registry whom authorities regard as most wanted.

The NIFTF worked with both the DCI and the Linn County Sheriff's Office, and by mid August they had zeroed in on a neighborhood in Cedar Rapids.

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Marshals set up surveillance in the area and were able to "positively identify Blue as he exited a residence in what appeared to be an attempt to observe the solar eclipse," the media release stated.

When they approached Blue to apprehend him, Blue fled on foot. He was captured when a local resident called police after they witnessed him climb inside a garbage bin in their yard.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office and the Cedar Rapids Police Department assisted NIFTF personnel with the arrest, and Blue was taken into custody without further incident, according to The Gazette. He was taken to Linn County Jail and faces a number of charges.

Blue was convicted in 2010 for a lascivious act with a female child under the age of 13, according to KCRG. The following year he pleaded guilty for failure to register as a sex offender.

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Monday's eclipse drew massive crowds throughout the country. In Carbondale, Illinois, 14,000 people observed the rare event from the football stadium of Southern Illinois University, according to The New York Times. About 10,000 people crowded into Jefferson Barracks Park overlooking the Mississippi River.

"You can read about it, but I am a witness to something powerful in the universe," Terry McGarrigle told The Times. She had traveled to St. Louis from White Plains, New York, to view the eclipse.

It was the first solar eclipse in North America since 1979, and the first to cover such a large percentage of the continent in almost a century. The next eclipse will take place on April 8, 2024.

Sources: The Gazette, KCRG, The New York Times / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Iowa Sex Offender Registry

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