Minnesota's Most Wanted Criminals

Have you seen these fugitives?

THE NIGHTMARE FOR David Cardenas Moreno's girlfriend's daughter began when he moved in with her mother in the summer of 2005.

Each morning, the girl's mother rose before dawn and left for work. Moreno, a small, sleepy-eyed man with a thin goatee, was left alone with the 13-year-old for hours.

One day, after weeks of uninvited groping, Moreno embraced the girl, as if for a hug. Instead, he wrestled her into his bedroom. As she struggled, he pressed her down on the mattress and wrenched down her pants. With her arms pinned to her sides, the girl was helpless as Moreno raped her. Afterward, he warned her not to tell anyone.

Once one of Ramsey County's "most wanted," David Cardenas Moreno is now in prison after evading local police for four years
Once one of Ramsey County's "most wanted," David Cardenas Moreno is now in prison after evading local police for four years
Edward Francis Bates
Edward Francis Bates

Over the course of the next year, she was raped by Moreno so many times that she lost count.

When the girl's mother found out, she brought the child to the police station. The cops arrested Moreno, who posted bail and skipped his court hearing.

Ramsey County Sheriff's deputies added his mug shot to their "Most Wanted" list. After four years, local law enforcement and the FBI were finally able to pinpoint his location in Mexico and extradite him to Minnesota.

This year, Moreno finally sat before a Ramsey County judge and pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with a minor. He started an eight-year prison sentence last month.

Many people are familiar with the FBI's "Most Wanted" list that J. Edgar Hoover started on March 14, 1950, and which celebrates its 60th birthday this year. One of the original 10 was a jewel thief named William Raymond Nesbit, who was found that year hiding in a sandstone cave on the St. Paul bluffs.

There is no "Most Wanted" list for Minnesota. The list of the state's most dangerous criminals is spread across 87 sheriff's departments, hundreds of local police departments, the Department of Corrections, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Some local law enforcement agencies maintain a formal list, but others don't, and their criteria for inclusion varies wildly.

For this list, we contacted dozens of sheriffs and police departments, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, and state troopers. We pulled court files and discussed the cases with attorneys, law enforcement officers, and victims' advocates.

Though the stories vary, each offender has one important thing in common.

"They've gone off the radar," says Assistant Dodge County Attorney Gary ReMine. "In other words, we don't know what they're doing."

Edward Francis Bates

Clarification: City Pages reported that the Minneapolis Police Department had identified Johnston Bates as a witness in a probably cause statement alleging a crime committed by his cousin, Edward Francis Bates. Johnston is not the subject of any criminal complaint, nor has he been charged with any crime. Johnston's attorney points out that the victim was unable to identify Johnston in a line-up, adding: "The person who the victim misidentified as Johnston Bates drove Edward Bates' car and used Edward Bates' cell phone."

A 32-year-old woman awoke on the floor of a dark bedroom in an unfamiliar house. She had no idea how she'd gotten there or why she was naked, and a strange man was on top of her.

The evening before had started out as a typical Saturday night of drinking with friends. As the clock neared midnight, the woman was closing out the evening at Gabby's in Minneapolis when she met Johnston Bates.

Heavyset and bald, Bates bought her a drink. The rest of the evening happened in flashes. The woman remembers going outside to find her friends' car missing. She remembers returning to the bar in tears. Then she was in Bates's car.

She awoke on a carpeted floor with a man inside her. Terrified, she cried out for him to stop, but the man laughed and slammed her head into the floor.

Bates was lying next to her on the carpet and yelled at the man on top of her, convincing him to leave. After she passed out again, the woman awoke when she felt teeth sinking into her neck. When she cried out, Bates kicked the man out again.

The next morning, the woman woke up completely naked on the couch downstairs. Bates told her that the man who raped her was his cousin and roommate. Bates drove her home, asking her to forget about the whole thing.

Instead, a coworker drove her to Fairview Southdale Hospital for a sexual-assault exam. She had been raped both vaginally and anally. Her neck was covered in bite marks, she was scraped and bruised on her face, and large knots had risen on the back of her head.

"This is a delicate thing," says Brooklyn Center Police Commander Tony Gruenig, "but the exam indicated violent intercourse."

Police took a report from the victim at the hospital; the next day, a detective drove her back to the Brooklyn Center neighborhood where she identified Bates's townhouse.

Police questioned Bates as well as his cousin, Edward Francis Bates. Edward admitted he had sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual.

Because she could not I.D. his face, DNA samples were taken and compared to the semen swabs of the rape kit. The match was Edward.

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