A woman, with family in Santa Clarita, was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for 18 years, until she was arrested in Mississippi and escorted back to the West Coast Friday to face several sex charges.
Victoria Michelle Cravitz, 56, described by the FBI as a fugitive since October 2000, was arrested Wednesday by agents of the FBI Jackson Mississippi Violent Crimes Task Force, Jennifer Adams, spokeswoman for the FBI in Portland, Oregon, said Friday.
Cravitz and her common-law husband/partner, Leon Henry Shaw, had been on the run for 18 years.
Shaw died last week in Mississippi, Adams said. He was described by the FBI as having tattoos on his hands, back and chest of spiders, skulls, leopards, snakes and the words “son of Satan.”
Cravitz was identified by citizens in Mississippi after she took Shaw to the hospital for an illness, Adams said. She was using the name Jennifer Larsen.
“Shaw died of natural causes at the hospital and questions about his true identity arose when generating a death certificate. Concerned citizens contacted the FBI,” she said.
Shaw and Cravitz were wanted for their alleged involvement in the sexual molestation of several children between the ages of 6 and 17 in Klamath Falls, Oregon, beginning in approximately December 1989 and continuing until approximately February 1999.
On Jan. 7, 2000, a circuit court judge in Klamath County, Oregon, issued arrest warrants for Shaw and Cravitz.
Shaw faced two counts of sodomy, four counts of sex abuse, five counts of rape, six counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and obstructing governmental administration charges.
Cravitz’s charges include three counts of rape in the first degree and one count of sodomy in the first degree.
Klamath County District Attorney Eve Costello, reached by phone Friday afternoon, told The Signal that Cravitz was on her way back to Oregon from Mississippi.
“This is a deeply disturbing case for all who investigated it,” she said, noting the district attorney’s office in Klamath County kept the case “on its radar” these past two decades.
“Every three or four years we would send law enforcement out again to check out information received,” Costello said.
“They moved around a lot and at one point we thought they were in Alaska,” she said, noting Shaw and Cravitz lived in “low-traffic rural areas, far from the mainstream and they did that in multiple places.”
“Our county intends to prosecute Ms. Cravitz to the full extent of the law,” Costello said. “Her and her husband’s abuse of multiple children have create long-term negative ramifications for many individuals.
“The allegations involve the kidnap, rape and torture of a number of young girls since before 2000 when the case first came to light to Klamath County’s Department of Human Services. DHS was able to intervene, but Ms. Cravitz and Mr. Shaw took off out of county,” Costello said.
“We are glad to see their whereabouts determined and plan to seek justice for the victims,” Costello said.
On Oct. 12, 2000, a federal judge in Medford, Oregon, issued warrants for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution — commonly called fugitive warrants — for both Shaw and Cravitz.
Following her arrest in Mississippi Wednesday, Cravitz appeared briefly before a federal magistrate in the Southern District of Mississippi and was, soon after, extradited back to Oregon to face federal and state charges.
According to an affidavit submitted by FBI Special Agent Shawna M. Carroll in 2000 and confirmed Friday by FBI spokeswoman Jennifer Adams, Oregon State Police identified four victims ranging in age from 6 to 17 who had been abused by Shaw between 1989 and 1999.
And, the affidavit said Shaw left his home in Oregon in February 1999 as a search warrant was being carried out. According to the same affidavit, Shaw and Cravitz fled to California and to Santa Clarita, where Cravitz’s parents lived.
A member of Cravitz’s family said Friday that, since 1999, Cravitz’s father has died and noted Victoria Cravitz never lived in Santa Clarita.