Police in Southern California rescued two children Tuesday from a mobile home after an hours-long chase for their father — a sex offender who is still at large.
Police saved the 3-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter of Stephen Houk, 46, who is a registered sex offender from Oregon.
The drama started early in the day after Houk and his wife were reportedly involved in a domestic dispute in their Lost Hill home. Police were later told that Houk was involved in a possible kidnapping.
A chase began after the motorhome, a 25-foot Dolphin 2740 with a bicycle strapped to its back, was spotted driving around Hollywood, according to the Associated Press. Television news of the chase showed that a dog was riding in the front seat as multiple California State Highway Patrol cars followed the motorhome down a freeway. It’s unclear what happened to the dog.
Houk fled the vehicle after it got stuck in soggy ground and he ran into a dense orchard in Bakersfield, according to the Los Angeles Times. A helicopter detected a heat signature from the driver's seat, which police at first believed was Houk, leading to a brief standoff. That heat was actually Houk’s son, who walked out of the motorhome on his own and told police only his sister was inside.
Houk has a warrant for his arrest for evading, child abduction, child endangerment and weapons violations, according to the Los Angeles Times. Police said he is considered armed.
He was convicted in the past of having sex with a child under the age of 14, police said.
“The circumstances of that conviction were too egregious to discuss," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Captain Darren Harris told KNBC-TV.
Both of the children have been reunited with their mother, according to the Los Angeles County’s Sheriff Department.
Anyone who spots Houk is urged to call 911 or the Santa Clarita sheriff's station at (661) 255-1121. Anonymous callers can contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or via the L.A. Crime Stoppers website.
[Photos: Marion County Sheriff's Office]