Marshals arrest man in Canfield

S.C. native wanted on sex crime warrant

CANFIELD — It was 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and the Canfield Fair was in full swing when police descended on the fairgrounds looking for a fugitive working there who was wanted in South Carolina on a charge of criminal solicitation of a minor.

Within an hour-and-a-half, an officer spotted Brandon Walsh, 30, working a carnival game next to the part of the fair with rides built for smaller riders, what Mahoning County Sheriff’s Major Billy Cappabianca called “kiddie land.”

“There were children all over,” the major said.

Cappabianca said during the search of the fairgrounds, officers found Walsh’s phone — in a port-a-potty — and his laptop computer, in a spot a little easier to recover it — Walsh’s car.

“We seized the laptop and the smart phone he had and we are getting a search warrant to see if he committed any offenses in Ohio,” Cappabianca said.

Finding Walsh and his phone was no easy task, Cappabianca said.

“The sheer number of people there made it a big task, and lowered our chances of success in apprehending him,” Cappabianca said. “But crimes like this shoot to the top of the spectrum of priorities — we all get the ‘let’s go get him’ mentality.”

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, the warrant states Walsh communicated with a victim, 13, in South Carolina, through Facebook Messenger and convinced her to meet for sex and to send nude photographs.

Walsh was arrested without incident and is being held in the Mahoning County Jail awaiting extradition to South Carolina, according to the Marshals.

“It was a big collaboration, we used all of the manpower we have, from all over the place. We threw in the works,” Cappabianca said.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification is assisting the investigators in South Carolina and evidence collection. The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Canfield police and fair police assisted the Youngstown division of the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force.

“Predators like this will not find a place to hide in Ohio. Our task force will continue to work tirelessly to see that people who prey on children are quickly brought to justice,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said.