Self-styled 'minister' again arrested in company of girl

Man who allegedly harbored missing teen in Riverside charged in Cleveland

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By Bob Uphues

Editor

A 39-year-old self-styled "minister" arrested in Riverside in January and charged with harboring a missing juvenile has been arrested again after allegedly being found with the same girl in a suburban Cleveland hotel room last month.

Juan C. Ocampo, who lived at a residence on East Burlington Street in downtown Riverside when he was arrested in January, was charged with obstructing justice and interference with custody by Cleveland police on Aug. 25.

According to a copy of the police report obtained by the Landmark, the girl's mother called Cleveland police shortly before 1 a.m. on Aug. 23 to report that the 17 year old had left the house at 11 a.m. the previous day and had not returned home.

Police learned that Ocampo was in the Cleveland area and later discovered he might be with the 17-year-old girl at a hotel in Brook Park, a southwest suburb of Cleveland near the airport.

Officers went to the hotel and confirmed Ocampo was registered there. They knocked on the door of the room where he was staying and asked to speak with the girl. Ocampo, who kept the door chained while speaking to police, reportedly shut the door on officers, who continued to knock and ask for the girl. 

That situation repeated itself several times, but Ocampo eventually agreed to let the girl leave the room, at which time police took him into custody.

Ocampo has a hearing scheduled in Cleveland Municipal Court on Sept. 30. It is unclear just how long Ocampo had been in Cleveland prior to his arrest. His address is listed in the court record as one housing the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry Men's Shelter in downtown Cleveland.

At the time of his arrest in August, Ocampo's case in Riverside was still pending.

He was arrested outside of his East Burlington Street residence on the night of Jan. 26. Inside Ocampo's vehicle, police observed two girls who he identified as his daughters. 

Police determined that one of them was actually a 16-year-old Cleveland girl who had run away from home in December 2019 and had been missing since at least Dec. 29, when she walked away from a shelter in Chicago.

Police reported at the time of Ocampo's arrest in January that he apparently knew friends of the missing girl. He reportedly told police he ran a ministry that helped young people living on the streets and that he put them up in his Riverside apartment.

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel called that claim "ludicrous."

"Our investigation clearly showed that he hid this juvenile, not only from her parents and other family members, but from law enforcement as well," Weitzel said in January.

Contact:
Email: buphues@wjinc.com Twitter: @RBLandmark

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