Just an hour after being profiled on "America's Most Wanted," Saturday night, the man accused in the disappearance and murder of Erika Dalquist was captured in Michigan.
William Gene Myears, 25, was arrested about 9:30 p.m. in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, Mich., said Chad Kleffman, Brainerd Police investigator. "America's Most Wanted" aired at 8 p.m. locally, with the segment on Dalquist and Myears running about 8:30 p.m.
"We were surprised and very happy," said Erika Dalquist's mother, Colleen Dalquist, of when she learned of Myears' arrest Saturday. "(Dalquist's father) Duane and I had a family wedding (Saturday) and we were talking about it on the way home. We figured ("America's Most Wanted") would help and we'd end up with good results, but we thought it would take a week or two."
Myears arrest came a day after family and friends gathered at Lakewood Free Evangelical Church in Baxter for Erika Dalquist's funeral.
"It was just a real roller coaster of emotions this week," said Colleen Dalquist. "With the funeral Friday and watching on TV (Saturday) and having quick results, it does give us a lot of relief to know he's in custody."
Myears faces two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the Oct. 30, 2002, disappearance and murder of 21-year-old Erika Dalquist.
After 18 months of searching by both law enforcement officials and the Dalquist family, Erika Dalquist's remains were found in a shallow grave May 15 on property about seven miles east of Brainerd that is owned by Myears' grandparents.
Kleffman said Myears, who had been working with Mid America Shows, was spotted after a viewer of "America's Most Wanted" recognized him. Myears was arrested at the carnival, which was located across the street from the Birmingham Police Department.
Specifically, it was a tattoo on his chest of a heart bearing the name of one of his children that lead to Myears being identified by a woman, said Kleffman. A Birmingham Police detective approached Myears, confirmed his identity and took him into custody without incident, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department reported in a news release.
"I expected a lot of tips because I know Billy's a social person and a lot of people know him, but I didn't think it would be this quick," said Kleffman. "I knew he would be found, though. It was just a matter of time." In total the television show generated three tips from Michigan, he said.
Aimee Swenson, a friend of Erika Dalquist, said she watched "America's Most Wanted" Saturday and knew that it would be the tattoos, of which Myears had several, that would lead to him being identified. About 10:20 p.m. she said she got that call that Myears had been captured.
"From the moment I heard I was just shaking. I was running around the house I was so happy," said Swenson. "My heart is just so happy right now. I feel like a weight has finally been lifted, we'll find out exactly what happened and (Myears) will be brought to justice."
Myears is being held in the Birmingham City Jail. He is awaiting extradition, which he has a chance to fight, said Kleffman. Calls to the Birmingham Police Department Sunday weren't returned. The Associated Press bureau in Detroit said the Birmingham Police Department declined to comment Sunday on Myears' arrest, but would be releasing information Monday.
The capture of Myears came two days after the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension-administered Spotlight on Crime offered a $25,000 reward for information that led his arrest.
"'America's Most Wanted' worked out," said Dave Bjerga, BCA special agent in charge of northern Minnesota.
Kleffman said as soon as he heard of Myears arrest he called Dalquist's parents, Duane and Colleen Dalquist, whom he said were happy about the news.
"This is nice for the Dalquists. It's one more thing they don't have to wait for," said Kleffman. "There's been too much waiting for them."
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