T. Webb

A Keizer man wanted on sex abuse charges was arrested on the Columbia River while fleeing authorities in a sailboat.

Evidence found on board the boat led authorities to think the suspect was leaving the area for a while, according to Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings.

“He had quite a large amount of clothing, money and numerous credit cards that were on the boat with him,” Hastings said.

Keizer Police Det. Ben Howden had traveled to Vancouver, Wash. to locate a Keizer resident wanted for abusing a juvenile female. The suspect and victim knew each other, said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns.

“The abuse, the best I can tell you, is something that’s been going on the past several years,” Kuhns said.

While in Vancouver Howden learned the suspect may be in St. Helens, where his sailboat was docked. St. Helens Police responded, saw the boat was gone and notified OSP.

OSP Fish and Wildlife Trooper Chris Boeholt and Trooper Adam Shimer were checking sturgeon anglers in the area and spotted the boat near Goble, an unincorporated Oregon community about 12 miles downstream from St. Helens.

Troopers pulled the boat alongside the 27-foot Catalina sailboat the suspect was operating, confirmed his identity and arrested him without further incident.

“Often suspects flee on foot, in motor vehicles or on motorcycles,” Kuhns said. “But not in sailboats.”

Arrested was Thomas Leroy Webb, 49, of Keizer, for two counts each of first-degree rape, sodomy and sex abuse. He is currently in the Columbia County Jail pending transport back to Marion County.