International manhunt for Lake County teacher ends in Sarajevo

Updated 9/19/2014 2:14 PM
  • Michael R. Vucic

    Michael R. Vucic

An international manhunt for a Lake County teacher accused of molesting a student has ended with him in custody in Bosnia-Herzegovina awaiting extradition to face charges in the United States.

Lake County Undersheriff Raymond J. Rose announced Michael R. Vucic, an instructor at Gavin South Middle School near Ingleside, was taken into custody Monday night in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Rose said Thursday the Lake County Sheriff's Office is working with the U.S. State Department on extradition, which "could take anywhere from two days to two weeks."

Vucic, 41, of the 100 block of East Laurel Avenue in Lake Forest, fled to Europe on Aug. 26, three days before he was charged with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and five counts of criminal sexual assault, according to police. A Lake County arrest warrant for Vucic has a $1 million bail attached.

Sheriff's police said confirmation was received from Interpol that Vucic, traveling on a U.S. passport, boarded an Air Berlin flight from O'Hare International Airport to Germany on Aug. 26. Interpol is an international police organization with 190 member countries.

Police said it was believed Vucic has family in Croatia. A message regarding Vucic left with Interpol's press office in France was not returned Thursday.

Rose declined to elaborate about Vucic's arrest.

"Due to the sensitivity and critical point of the investigation, we will have no further comment at this time," he said.

According to authorities, Vucic molested a girl under the age of 13, who told her grandparents she had sexual contact several times with the instructor in 2012. The girl, who reported the abuse Aug. 25, was a Gavin South student at the time, according to police.

Police said Vucic assaulted the girl several times during an unspecified period of time. Police believe the sexual contact occurred at the Gavin Elementary District 37 school.

Since the arrest warrant for Vucic was issued and became public Aug. 29, two more possible victims approached the sheriff's office, according to authorities. Police said the girls are former students in the Fox Lake-area school system.

It's unknown whether Vucic remains employed by District 37. Neither Superintendent John Ahlemeyer nor school board President Stan Pasiewicz returned detailed messages seeking comment Thursday.

Ahlemeyer said in a letter to parents that authorities contacted school officials about the accusations on the same day police said he went to Germany. Ahlemeyer wrote that Vucic wasn't at work when police contacted District 37.

Vucic has been a Gavin teacher for 18 years, police said. Ahlemeyer recently wrote the school community remained "shocked" that a District 37 teacher is accused of inappropriate contact with a former pupil.

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