Iowa man who faked his own death to avoid child pornography charges is arrested, feds say

One month after Jacob Greer was released on bond, his probation officer received an alert — the man out on two child pornography counts had removed his ankle monitor.

The officer tried to contact Greer, who was living with his grandmother in Des Moines, but to no avail. Authorities later found his car with a suicide note in it. But with the body missing and signs that Greer might have tampered with the GPS device, federal officials issued an arrest warrant for him in 2016.

That was the start of an almost six-year-long search across three states that concluded Monday. The U.S. Marshals Service announced Tuesday that Greer — a survivalist who the agency said “faked his own death and fled the state to avoid a trial” — had been detained in Washington state.

“The arrest of Jacob Greer after six years is a testament to the tenacity of Deputy U.S. Marshals and our investigative partners,” U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Iowa Ted Kamatchus said in a news release. “Even though the case went cold, they would not quit.”

Greer, 28, is being held at a federal detention center in Seattle, waiting to be extradited to Iowa to stand trial. He was found in Spanaway, Wash., a town of about 35,000 people about 14 miles south of Tacoma.

No attorney for Greer is listed in court documents. A lawyer who previously represented him did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Greer’s case began in April 2016.

He was arrested that month — almost two years after law enforcement agents said he knowingly received files of child pornography between June 2013 and November 2014. A grand jury in Iowa also charged him with possessing a computer with sexually explicit depictions of minors, including some under the age of 12, court records show. Under federal law, possessing pornography involving a prepubescent minor is punishable by up to 20 years in prison for anyone without a prior conviction.

One day after his arrest, Greer was released after promising to appear in court as required. But the September 2016 trial was indefinitely postponed after Greer vanished in May — leaving behind a fake suicide note in his car, according to authorities.

A week after his disappearance, the U.S. Forest Service found another vehicle of Greer’s in Flathead County, Mont. Investigators said a friend of Greer’s had given him a $1,000 loan to buy the car, which Greer then left at Tuchuck Campground.

Tucked “high up and far away” between northwest Montana’s Review and Cleft Rock mountains, the secluded campground in the Whitefish Range is less than 10 miles from Canada — where, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, Greer was planning to escape.

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According to the agency, Greer was a survivalist on the run, fleeing Iowa with “money, a bow, arrows and a backpack full of survival gear.” His plan, investigators discovered, was to “live off the land in remote areas of the upper western states or southern Canada, hiding out in abandoned cabins,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request from The Washington Post for comment. It remains unclear whether Greer was living in the wilderness at the time of his arrest.

Before being apprehended, authorities say, Greer had last been spotted at a Walmart in Kalispell, Mont., in June 2016 wearing a camouflage hat.

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