A community leader is charged with sexually abusing children, then disappears.

Frank Montenegro clapping and laughing with a small mustache

Frank Montenegro


Gender: Male
DOB: 12/3/63
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 230 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black


Detective Teresa Martin sitting in a police station having a conversation on the phone

Det. Teresa Martin handled the case

By any measure, Frank Montenegro was a hero.   At the age of twenty-four, both of Frank’s parents suddenly died, leaving behind Frank and five siblings who were under the age of eighteen.   Frank immediately gave up his carefree life in San Diego and moved back to his hometown of Hayward, California, to raise his orphaned brothers and sisters. Manuel Montengro referred to his brother, Frank, as an angel:

“He came in there and said, ‘You know, it’s going to be all right.   You’ll stay together, and you don’t have to worry about being in different places and, you know, not being taken care of.'”

Teresa opening the door to a secret room

She found a secret room with a double mirror

Soon the story of Frank’s sacrifice was national news.   Numerous newspapers and magazines proclaimed how Frank’s generosity should be a lesson to us all.   To support his family, Frank taught special education at the local elementary school. He seemed to be not only the perfect teacher, but also the perfect citizen.   He was an avid churchgoer, a devoted family man, and a compassionate mentor to troubled kids.   Known affectionately as “Mr. Monty”, Frank Montenegro was admired and trusted by virtually everyone.

But all that changed when the mother of a boy in Montenegro’s class, Patricia Jackson, made a strange discovery:

“I noticed in his clothes there was a new pair of underwear.   And I asked him, ‘Where did you get these?’ and he said, ‘My teacher Mr. Monte bought them for me.’ I thought that was strange. Why would a teacher at school be buying a student underwear?   I couldn’t really come up with a sensible reason, but I just kind of kept it in the back of my head. And a year after this had happened, my son said he goes, ‘I forgot to tell you something.’ And I go, ‘What?’ And he goes, ‘Remember my teacher Mr. Monte, the one that bought me those underwear and stuff?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. What about him?’ He said, ‘Well, he raped me.'”

Teresa looking around the hidden room on the other side of a two way mirror

“…this guy’s probably filming these acts.”

Frank Montenegro seemed to be someone who cared deeply about children.   Police were now faced with a troubling dilemma.   Was Montenegro the upstanding citizen he appeared to be?   Or did he, in fact, prey upon innocent children?   The allegation against Frank Montenegro landed on the desk of Fremont, California, police detective Teresa Martinez.   An officer since the age of 22, Martinez quickly made the rank of detective and now worked on the sexual assault unit:

“Frank Montenegro was seen as this huge icon in the community. And you can’t ruin somebody’s career because one child says it happened. And you can’t go into court and convict a guy for child molestation or sexual assault when there’s nothing to corroborate it.”

Detective Martinez had enough experience with children to know that their accounts are not always accurate, so she had to corroborate the boy’s story.   She brought him to a child specialist who questioned the boy further.   Martinez watched the interview on a video monitor:

“What came out of that interview is the victim said that all the students in his class had seen what occurred. When we heard that, everybody’s opinion was, ‘Ok, we know that’s not true.'”

Man clutching a chain link fence

Police believe he molested at least two boys

Despite her doubts, Martinez immediately interviewed all the children in the boy’s class.   They all denied seeing anything.   She decided to interview the boy again. This time, the boy admitted that he had lied about the other students seeing the assault.   He said he was scared during the first interview and thought his lie would end the questioning.   But according to Teresa, the boy claimed that Frank Montenegro did, in fact, attack him:

“This kid was so believable. His demeanor wasn’t one of being untruthful.   And, you know, he just wasn’t lying and I believed him.”

Detective Martinez searched Montenegro’s classroom, where the victim said the incident took place.   As she made her way to the back, she found something she did not expect to see at an elementary school.   Through a nondescript door were two hidden rooms.   Theresa claimed the rooms were separated by a two-way mirror:

“There should be no reason for a two-way mirror between those two rooms. I’m thinking, why would he need that? And in my mind, as an investigator, I’m thinking, this guy’s probably filming these acts. The way the two rooms are set up in the back, if Frank wanted to do this with this child, he can shut those doors.   And even if somebody walked into the classroom, they wouldn’t be able to see what was going on.”

When Martinez returned the next day, the two-way mirror had been replaced with a regular pane of glass.   Fearing that Montenegro might suddenly have become aware of her investigation, Martinez shifted into high gear.   She had a search warrant secured for Montenegro’s home:

“And when we searched his room, we found gifts for smaller kids and books about sex with younger kids. Now we’re starting to get some things that are going to help me corroborate the profile of a child molester.”

Montenegro was not home during the search, but a female relative was.   Detective Martinez says the relative then made a disturbing revelation.

“She told me of an incident involving another victim that was found in Frank’s bedroom naked.”

After hearing about the possibility of a second incident, Martinez brought Montenegro in for questioning:

“We talked to him for close to four hours, and in that whole time, he never denied that he did anything. It was always, ‘No, it couldn’t have been me.’ Not: ‘No, I didn’t do it.’ It was very passive, very, very clear to us that he wasn’t being truthful.”

But it was still the word of a little boy who had already lied against that of a well-respected teacher and community leader.   For charges as serious as child abuse, it wasn’t enough for an arrest warrant.   To seal her case, Detective Martinez needed the testimony from a second victim.   She discovered that a neighboring police department held an outstanding complaint against Montenegro involving another boy. Fearing that Montenegro might take off, Martinez raced to the school and pulled the boy out of class for an interview:

“His eyes started tearing up, and he looked as if, ‘Oh, my gosh, I am caught. I need to talk.’ I knew that something had happened to that kid.”

Detective Martinez claimed that, after gentle questioning, the boy finally revealed the unsettling details of Montenegro’s assault:

“The stories he told me were probably some of the most horrific stories I’ve ever heard. And to even picture in my mind how this guy did these things to this little boy, it made me sick.   And it broke my heart to see this little kid, who’s a great little boy, think that he was bad, when he wasn’t bad at all.”

Martinez now had the corroboration she needed to arrest Frank Montenegro.   But it was too late.   Montenegro was already long gone.   Six days after he was interviewed by police, a car rented in his name was found abandoned more than a thousand miles away in La Paz, Mexico.   Montenegro’s whereabouts are currently unknown, but police believe he has likely returned to the United States.   Frank Montenegro is 5’10” tall, and when last seen, weighed 230 pounds.   He has friends in the San Diego area and family in Kansas.


Frank Montenegro was arrested in Los Angeles, California, on August 12, 2015 after a foot chase and a struggle. The LAPD received a tip about Montenegro’s location, and learned he had been living under an alias. Montenegro was convicted and sentenced to 195 years to life.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eleven with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. Anonymous

    Frank Montenegro was sentenced to 195 years to life in prison. The sad part was that he did this horrible crime to his younger siblings. I’m thankful that he will never hurt another child again and that he will never get out of prison ever again.


  2. Anonymous

    Wherever he is, I just hope someone has seen him before. He must be stopped!


  3. Anonymous

  4. C

    Mistrial! Disgusting sack of crap, can’t stand the “justice system”, vile bunch of pedos themselves. Cover ups galore.


  5. Brittany Howard

    Update if you google his name the first article to pop up says that after 14 years on the run he was finally caught and apprehended. Thank God he is off the streets and in jail where he belongs.


  6. Denise

    I read an article in the LA Times that he was captured in southern CA in August.


  7. Jim

    At last! Detective Martinez would be so proud of the LAPD. I hope he goes away for the rest of his life. And I hope Lifetime will make a TV Movie about him. I’m thinking of Greg Grunberg playing Frank Montenegro.


  8. moofaloof

  9. Esther

    Well? Have any of you seen this man before? Do you know where he is right now? Do you know where he would stay or where he would go?


  10. niesha

    I was in his class when I went to school at blacow in Fremont ca


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