Reading Man Wanted for Criminal Assault Against 9-Year-Old

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP, PA (PRESS RELEASE)  – Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus announces the apprehension of Jose Melendez Jr., 33 years of age, most recently of Turtle Creek and Reading, Pennsylvania.  Melendez was wanted on an arrest warrant issued for the sexual assault of a child.

The criminal complaint alleges multiple incidents occurring between 2017 and 2021, when the child was as young as 9. Also, alleged in the criminal complaint, Melendez made several attempts to coerce the victim from reporting the assaults by paying money and buying gifts.

An arrest warrant was issued in March 2022 for the sexual assault of a child. Not long after, Melendez was allegedly involved in a vehicle pursuit with police in the Borough of Turtle Creek. A police officer observed a vehicle driving erratically near the intersection of Thompson Road and Tri-Boro Expressway. When the officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop, the vehicle accelerated to a high rate of speed to avoid being pulled over. As the vehicle sped away from police, the officer observed the vehicle strike a telephone pole rendering the vehicle inoperable. As the officer approached the wreckage, the driver quickly exited the vehicle and fled into a wooded area and was not found that evening. Following a search of the vehicle, authorities found multiple forms of identification belonging to Jose Melendez, Jr., which led to the issuance of an additional arrest warrant.

Over the past several days, Sheriff’s Deputies determined that Melendez was possibly staying in the Natrona Heights area of Harrison Township. Sheriff’s Deputies approached an apartment building located in the 200 block of Park Avenue in Harrison Township where they believed Melendez may be staying. As Deputies approached, they observed Melendez seated in a vehicle in front of the apartment building. At the sight of approaching Deputies, Melendez opened the door and began to run toward the back of the apartment complex to avoid capture. Anticipating the possibility of this response, Sheriff’s Deputies had surrounded this location and promptly captured Melendez at the rear of the building around 5:45 PM without incident.

Melendez was taken to the Allegheny County Jail, where he will await arraignment on the assault warrant, as well as the traffic-related warrant. The charges on the assault warrant include statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with minor – felony 1 offense, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault (2), intimidation retaliation or obstruction, indecent assault (2), endangering welfare of children, promoting prostitution, corruption of minors, criminal use of communication facility, and intimidation of witnesses or victims.

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