Alleged victim’s family speaks about cross country capture: ‘I’m glad it’s over’

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The U.S. Marshals tracked down and arrested a wanted convicted sex offender on Tuesday 3,000 miles from Norfolk in San Francisco.

Daniel Nickerson, 59, has been on the run since he missed a court date in June 2014 on two charges of aggravated sexual battery and one charge of taking indecent liberties with a minor. He was out of jail on bond when he fled.

“I’m glad it’s over,” said Denise Vaughan, who says Nickerson is her former fiance, who police charged with sexually assaulting her daughter between the ages of five and eight.

Vaughan wanted to speak about the arrest with WAVY.com to send a message to others: “You think you know somebody, but you don’t.”

“Knowing now that he can’t hurt any other children is justice for my daughter,” said Vaughan.

It took Vaughan’s daughter until she was 15-years-old to come forward to police. She is now 19 and married with two kids, but Vaughan says she suffers from panic attacks, bipolar disorder and PTSD because of the alleged abuse.

“He was gone and nobody knew where he was and every time she would see a van or sees somebody that kind of looked like him, she’d have to take double take. She was scared it was him and he was watching her. That’s a pretty messed up way for a child to have to live.”

Chris Leuer, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals, says the agency arrested Nickerson on June 6 outside a homeless shelter, where he had been living for at least a few months.

“We don’t reinvent the wheel. The Marshals were on the ground conducting interviews,” said Leuer. “It was literally as simple as showing people a photo: ‘Have you seen this guy?’ A lot of people said, ‘Yes.'”

Leuer says Nickerson was also wanted for failing to register as a sex offender from a previous conviction.

“I know with Daniel Nickerson behind bars, a lot of people are sleeping easier,” he said.

Vaughan says she’s looking forward to facing Nickerson eye-to-eye in court, and she’s hoping her daughter’s trauma is an eye-opener to parents.

“He’s a sick person,” she said. “Stick by your kids; Believe them when they tell you something. Don’t disregard anything they say, because kids don’t make stuff like that up.”

Nickerson is currently being held in the San Francisco County Jail awaiting return to Virginia.