Cult leader Victor Barnard possibly spotted in Washington - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

WANTED: Cult leader Victor Barnard possibly spotted in Washington

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Authorities in the state of Washington may be closing in on a cult leader who was charged with 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct involving minors after two victims came forward to say he raped them.

According to the Washington State Patrol, a credible tip on the location of 52-year-old Victor Barnard came in on Wednesday. Police say Barnard was apparently spotted leaving a McDonald's restaurant on SR 101, and additional information leads them to believe he has been in the Aberdeen and Raymond areas of Grays Harbor County recently. Now, they're hoping members of the public will help find him.

Troopers say the car Barnard is believed to be traveling in is a dark blue, 2-door Audi with tinted windows and a spoiler. He apparently departed toward Aberdeen with a young white woman in the vehicle. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call 911.

A nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest on April 11 after he was charged with 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct involving minors. The case had been inactive until a Fox 9 Investigation brought the stories of Lindsey Tornambie and Jess Schweiss to light at the end of February.

The charges date back to when Barnard allegedly gathered a group of the 10 eldest daughters in his River Road Fellowship and began calling them the "maidens." The girls were tasked with caring for his Shepherd's Camp, but Tornambie and Schweiss told the Fox 9 Investigators he began sexually abusing them shortly afterward. They were 13 and 12 at the time, and both said the alleged abuse continued for about a decade before Barnard fled Minnesota.

MORE: The Maidens of River Road

Investigators had been searching for Barnard in the Spokane, Wash., area after receiving 20 to 30 tips that he had been seen there; however, that's nowhere near where he was allegedly spotted on Wednesday. That location is about 124 miles west of Seattle. Barnard and nearly 100 followers fled their compound in Minnesota for the state about 6 years ago; however, those followers have been uncooperative in the search.

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