AUSTIN, Texas - An Austin fugitive on the run for 17 years was captured in Panama on Friday. Police said 52-year-old Alexander Ross faked being a dentist and sexually abused child patients in Austin in 1998.
"It's nice for the victims to have some closure. These victims have had now 16, 17 years of knowing this guy's out there and knowing he's probably doing the same thing again," said Violent Crimes Commander Patrick Cochran with the Austin Police Department.
In 1998 Ross was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts of indecency with a child and practicing dentistry without a license, but Ross never faced a trial. Instead, he ran and it took 17 years for the FBI to track him down.
"You know, every year I kept that sticky note on my computer and I would throughout the years call our intel and they would contact people," said Cochran.
Ross performed dental procedures on several child patients at the Children's Dental Center in Austin during the year he worked there. Police said Ross often used the procedures as a way to scam Medicaid.
One of Ross' victims was five-year-old Nevyn Owen. Ross gave him 18 crowns on his teeth when all he needed was two fillings.
"Some of the kids reported they couldn't eat ice cream anymore, they couldn't eat anything slightly cold because of all the metal in their mouth," said Cochran.
Owen said 17 years later, he still has problems with his teeth because of Ross.
Ross also sexually assaulted several young girls.
FBI agents said after searching leads all over the world, they finally found Ross in Panama, where they believe he had opened up another dentist's office.
"There's no perfect crime. He left a trail behind, as slight as it was, fictitious names things like that that we were able to follow up with," said Philip Hogue with the violent crimes task force of the Austin Police Department.
Ross was deported to the U.S. Friday. He is now in the Travis County Jail.
The FBI and Austin Police said they hope closing this case will help some of his victims heal.
"Anytime that a child is involved in a violent case, or a sexually exploited case, or a case of those types, we won't rest until the individual is brought home," said Special Agent Chad Creasey with the Austin Resident Agency office of the FBI.