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F-M pair receive $50,000 reward checks on Oprah

Two Fargo-Moorhead women received $50,000 checks from Oprah Winfrey's show Tuesday for their part in capturing a fugitive sex offender from Indiana. Friends Karie Miller of Fargo and Jean Rosenthal of Moorhead held hands while walking onto the se...

Two Fargo-Moorhead women received $50,000 checks from Oprah Winfrey's show Tuesday for their part in capturing a fugitive sex offender from Indiana.

Friends Karie Miller of Fargo and Jean Rosenthal of Moorhead held hands while walking onto the set of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to a standing ovation .

Miller tipped off FBI agents last Thursday, reporting that William Carl Davis lived above her family in a north Fargo apartment.

"This is why I say you were so courageous, because you know what courage is," Winfrey told the women. "It's being scared but doing it anyway."

Rosenthal watched Winfrey's show Oct. 4 on fugitives accused of preying on children when she saw the profile of a man she knew as Mark Allen Davis.

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She called Miller, convinced it was the same man, and asked her friend to check the profile on Winfrey's Web site, www.oprah.com .

After Miller checked the profile, she called FBI agents in Minneapolis to turn in her neighbor.

Authorities wanted Davis, 33, of Wadesville, Ind., on 10 felony counts of child molestation and failing to register as a sex offender. Miller's family befriended Davis, who had broken his leg in a bicycle-car accident Sept. 17, despite their concerns about some of his behaviors.

REWARD JUMP

Miller's husband, Larry, helped FBI agents when they arrived at the apartment to arrest Davis on a federal warrant for fleeing prosecution.

Davis, who had lived in the Fargo-Moorhead area since at least August 2004 and worked as a handyman, used an Indiana birth certificate and driver's license to obtain a North Dakota license in his brother's name, Mark Allen Davis.

Most of Winfrey's show recounted events leading up to the tip by Miller and Rosenthal.

Miller said she encountered Davis at their apartment 30 minutes after calling the FBI and asked if he was going somewhere.

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But Davis followed Miller into her apartment and "sat down on my couch, ate macaroni and cheese with my daughter and I, sat in my home for about two hours, and then he went to work," she said.

Rosenthal, who originally tuned into Winfrey's show to watch a segment on former Fargo resident and convicted sex offender Joseph Duncan, said she recognized Davis's glasses and knew fugitives often tried to change their appearance.

Then Rosenthal enlisted Miller's help in confirming her suspicion. Miller said Davis shaved his head on the day he was arrested.

The picture of Davis on Winfrey's show and Web site made it easy for Miller to confirm. "I recognized him immediately because he still has that same innocent childish soft look," Miller said.

Despite her initial instincts about Davis when she met him, Miller said she gave her neighbor the benefit of the doubt and allowed him to watch her children.

"This is what I really want people to know," said Winfrey, a victim of molestation herself at a young age. "Child molesters, people who are after your children, are nice people on the outside."

Winfrey, whose production company offered $100,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest of several fugitives featured on last week's show, presented cashier's checks to the women.

Also appearing on the show were the mother and grandmother of two Indiana boys named as victims in Davis's latest charges. They embraced Miller and Rosenthal.

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Machelle Yott said she wants to see Davis convicted and put in prison for the rest of his life.

Davis, who turned down two interview requests, remains in the Cass County Jail pending a Nov. 3 extradition hearing that would return him to Indiana to face charges.

Authorities also arrested Niles Scott after his profile appeared on Winfrey's show last week. Scott faces sex charges in Ohio after his Oct. 5 capture in Belize.

Winfrey renewed her pledge to pay $100,000 rewards to capture eight sex offenders profiled on her show and asked viewers to help find several missing children.

Davis's arrest sparked nationwide media attention, including a segment on ABC News on Tuesday night.

David Muir, an ABC news reporter, said during the segment, "No investigator has the weapon Oprah has - an audience."

Entertainment Tonight and CBS also aired segments about Winfrey's show Tuesday night. Joyce Goldsmith, who provides day care for Miller's children, said Miller and Rosenthal planned to travel to New York for an appearance on "Good Morning America" today.

"Good Morning America" airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WDAY-TV.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Steven P. Wagner at (701) 241-5542

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