Suspected pedophile captured in New Jersey

Wayne Nelson Corliss, 59 of Union City, New Jersey
May 8, 2008 4:47:46 PM PDT
An actor who played Santa Claus and painted children's faces was arrested on child sex charges early Thursday after an international manhunt, just the second time Interpol sought the public's help to find a suspected pedophile. Wayne Nelson Corliss, 58, was arrested Thursday morning in his Union City apartment. He is suspected of sexually abusing at least three boys from Southeast Asia thought to have been 6 to 10 years old, according to the international police agency.

Corliss is charged with producing child pornography and could face 10 to 20 years in federal prison if convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark. He was to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

Colleagues know Corliss, who acted under the stage name Casey Wayne, as a witty man who liked to write and eschewed 9-to-5 jobs in favor of acting and entertainment gigs - including painting faces and playing Santa Claus at parties, said Raven Squire, the superintendent of the Union City apartment building where Corliss has lived for more than a decade.

"He's a very amiable man, a great sense of wittiness," Squire said. "He seemed very stable, always paid his rent."

Corliss' arrest came two days after Interpol took the rare step of asking for the public's help. Two years of investigation had failed to determine the identity, whereabouts or even the nationality of a man shown engaged in sex with children in images associated with a Canadian child pornography investigation in 2005.

Interpol's secretary general, Ronald Noble, said 460 leads flooded in within the first 24 hours after the agency launched its public appeal Tuesday. Three of those leads, e-mailed to Interpol from people in the United States who thought they recognized the man but who requested anonymity, were particularly strong, and all referred to the suspect by the name Casey Wayne, Noble said.

The leads also came with photographs of the man and other details about him, including a resume for Corliss that described him "an acclaimed portrayer of Santa Claus every winter holiday season," who played at parties for New York banks and others, Noble said.

"That brought him into contact with children on a regular basis," Noble said.

In one of the e-mails, an informant wrote: "I think I know this man ... He is a good man and I am shocked!" said Noble.

It was only the second time that Interpol had launched such a public manhunt for a suspected pedophile. The first time, in October, led to the quick arrest by police in Thailand of Christopher Paul Neil, a 32-year-old Canadian. Neil went on trial in March, accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy.

Interpol said Wednesday that its appeal this time produced more than 200 leads - potential names, locations and photos of the suspect - in the first 24 hours.

Photos seized by police in Norway in 2006 showed the abuse, the international police agency said. The man did not appear to make any effort to hide his identity in the photos seized from the computer of a man later convicted of child sex offenses, officials said.

Photos released by Interpol showed a gray-haired white man wearing glasses or lying on a checkered mattress or blanket in a yellow plaid shirt.

A computerized Interpol database of child abuse images played a part in the manhunt. The first photos seized in Norway and others received in the two years since were run through the database of more than 520,000 images.

In all, the database and police investigations helped turn up a total of around 800 images, including nearly 100 of the man himself and others of his suspected victims or places where he is thought to have committed his alleged crimes, Interpol said.


Load Comments