‘Master Of Disguise’ Fugitive Captured After Four-Year Manhunt

A fugitive felon that the FBI dubbed a “master of disguise” for having more than a dozen aliases was finally captured in California after a four-year manhunt.

Authorities in Newport Beach, California, caught 51-year-old Tyler Adams and have scheduled his extradition to Hawaii.

Adams escaped state custody in Hawaii in 2019 while serving time for stealing $130,000 from Hawaiian banks and a $5,000 ring from Costco. CBS 8 reported that Adams previously served a seven-year prison sentence in San Diego, California, for running up more than $3 million in debt using his mother and father’s identities.

Authorities reported Adams missing from the Oahu Community Correctional Center on May 21, 2019, after he did not return from a work furlough. A $50,000 warrant for a second-degree escape charge was issued for Adams’ arrest over a year later, in September 2020.

During his time on the run, the “master of disguise” met Navy veteran Racquel Sabean and started a relationship with her under false pretenses, using the name Paul Phillips.

The pair later crossed the southern border into Mexico along with their infant daughter on April 17,2022. Sabean’s body was found in the trunk of her Volkswagen Jetta in Tijuana just over one month later, on May 31, after residents in the area reported a “foul odor” coming from the vehicle.

Sabean’s father, David, spoke out after his daughter’s body was found, telling a local news outlet that he had seen several “red flags” with Adams and declaring that he “would bet my life” that Adams killed his daughter.

David also recalled his daughter telling him that Adams was “nice” to him, “but when you’re not around, he’s not so nice to me.”

“Eventually, I started thinking this guy’s a phony, right?” he added.
David also asserted that surveillance footage showed Adams parking the Volkswagen on the street in the spot where his daughter’s body was found.

He later told CBS 8 that an autopsy revealed his daughter’s neck had been broken.

Mexican police questioned Adams about Sabean’s disappearance prior to her body being discovered, but according to NBC San Diego, police deemed him “uncooperative.” Mexican prosecutors have confirmed that Adams remains a suspect in Sabean’s murder.

He is also wanted by the FBI in connection to her murder. The FBI San Diego office has noted that Adams was also detained in Mexico after an Amber Alert was issued for his seven-month-old daughter, Valentina, who was later found safe in Mexico with a babysitter. The child is still in protective custody in Mexico.

Despite having warrants in the U.S., Adams was able to cross the border back into the country after he was let go by Mexican police. Authorities have determined that Adams re-entered the U.S. using a fake identity card with the alias “Aaron Bain.”

According to the FBI, Adams has used over a dozen aliases, including Aaron Lee, David Smith, Dominic Braun, David Phillips, Kevin Schoolcraft, Kevin Kennedy, Michael Whitman, Lance Irwin, Brice Johnson, Matthew Kashani, Taylor Chase and Joshua Smith.

The FBI issued a press release in June 2022 requesting the public’s help in locating Adams, declaring that he was a “phony” and a “master of disguise.”

Now that he has finally been arrested after a four-year manhunt, Adams is facing charges including grand theft and fraud via false pretenses, as well as the fugitive warrant out of Hawaii and federal warrants for falsifying identification documents and making false statements, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Adams has thus far pleaded guilty to misdemeanor grand theft and fraud charges, though he is still scheduled to appear in court on January 3 for the fugitive charges.