Fugitive’s former friend wonders why he stole his identity
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — For more than a year, a man who allegedly faked his own death and fled multiple child sex abuse charges in Mississippi lived in an Oklahoma RV park using the name of a friend.
On Jan. 29, a tip led to the capture of Jacob Blair Scott, 43, of Moss Point. Scott disappeared just days before he was scheduled to enter a plea in an abuse case that, if found guilty, could have meant a life sentence. Authorities said he faked his death in Orange Beach, Alabama, in 2018 and was found this year living in a camper in Antlers, Oklahoma, using the name Lucas Walding.
Walding and Scott both are Army veterans who served in Iraq. They grew up together in Hurley and had been friends for more than 20 years.
But that has since changed.
“He’s not the same person I knew,” Walding told The Sun Herald in an exclusive interview. “Never in my mind was a thought that he would do something like this. If I ever had the slightest doubt that he would, I would have never been friends with him.”
The day after Scott’s arrest, Walding said, Jackson County Sheriff’s investigator Randy Muffley asked to meet with him. During the meeting, Walding said Muffley told him Scott had been arrested and had been using his name.
“I thought Randy was joking at first. I said, ‘You are joking, right?’,” Walding said.
“I was floored about it,” he continued. “I had no idea. I was shocked he used my name. Think about if you had a friend you found out (was accused of this) and went on the run and they were using your name. That is really not a friend at all in my book.”
Walding said news that Scott had “died” really touched him.
“I ain’t going to lie, I was kinda shook up about it a little,” he said. “I wouldn’t want anybody I knew — no matter what they’ve done — to commit suicide.”
Walding said he’ll never understand why Scott would want to throw his life away. He described Scott as a friendly and “likable” person who could be in a crowd and it wouldn’t be long before the crowd was drawn to him and listening to his stories and jokes, he said.
He called it “wild” to think someone he considered a friend would allegedly commit a crime and fake his death.
“That is like something you would see out of a movie,” he said. “It’s not normal behavior for a person to be like that.”
Since learning that Scott was using his identity, Walding said he has had to explain what was going on to his family.
“It’s honestly been stressful,” he said. “I talked with my kids and told them about it cause it’s obviously going to come out in the news. I don’t want them to be shocked or hear it from somebody else when they hear something.”
Walding said he’s also heard people suggest that he’s somehow involved in Scott’s alleged scheme.
“I’ve had people question me about it, and I tell them just what I told Randy (the investigator),” he said. “I was friends with him and that’s about the extent. If I’m guilty of anything, that’s all I’m guilty of.”
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell told the newspaper earlier this week that his investigators are working along with state and federal authorities to determine if anyone helped Scott try to avoid prosecution. Authorities have recovered various disposal phones, a laptop computer and other evidence that are undergoing a forensic analysis “to trace who he was possibly in contact with,” the sheriff said.
“We believe he had various folks helping him,” Ezell said. “We are looking at anybody that could be involved in all of this. This investigation is far from over.”
Since Scott’s capture, Walding said someone he knew passed on a message that Scott wanted to talk to him. Walding said he doesn’t want to talk to Scott, though he would like him to explain why he used his name.
“I mean, if you are going to throw your life away, that’s fine,” Walding said. “Just don’t drag anybody else into it. It’s a hard pill to swallow.”