Fugitive child murderer arrested in Las Vegas

In November 1975, Frederick was found dead in his parent’s car in Carson City.

The 6-month-old was naked and bruised. His arms, legs and ribs were broken. An autopsy revealed he had starved to death.

Frederick’s parents, Eric and Mary Zessman, had been living in their car for more than a month when he was found. They told authorities the infant had health problems. Eric said Mary abused Frederick.

They were immediately arrested on outstanding felony warrants from Colorado.

Both were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on first-degree murder charges in June 1976, but the state Supreme Court reduced the charges to second-degree murder on a technicality.

Eric Zessman was released on parole in 1981, but his life of crime didn’t end there.

Tom Ely, captain at parole and probation headquarters in Carson City said his release was “followed by a number of revocation hearings, sanctions and reinstatements.” The exact dates of his parole releases were unavailable, but included 1981, 1996 and 1997.

Thirty eight years after the death of his son, Zessman, 59, was again arrested in Las Vegas on Monday after at least eight years as a fugitive, seven parole releases, 18 hearings and spending time on the state parole division’s most wanted list.

He was a wanted fugitive in 1997 when he and two men robbed United Coin, a gaming technology company in Las Vegas. A driver waited outside while two armed men in ski masks and jumpsuits overpowered a security guard and two employees before carrying out the robbery. They got away with $1.6 million. Authorities say up to $500,000 was never recovered.

After evading law enforcement for another two years, Zessman was finally arrested in Pahrump, and $200,000 of gold, property and cash was recovered.

He was convicted and went to prison again.

In 2006, he was granted parole, and he again fled.

Parole officials said Zessman “absconded from community supervision” less than four months after he was released.

He resurfaced Monday when he was arrested following a tip that he was abusing an older woman and residing with someone involved in a previous arrest, according to the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation.

“The Division really appreciates the assistance of the public and law enforcement in locating wanted fugitives,” Ely said.

Officials said Zessman attempted to flee arrest but was apprehended and booked into the Clark County Detention Center on parole violation warrants.

One of the brothers arrested in the armed robbery, Fain Gonce, has since died. The other, Richard Gonce, completed his parole sentence.

Mary Zessman’s whereabouts are unclear. She was also released on parole in 1981 at the Warm Springs Correctional Center, and according to Ely, she was compliant and cooperative from there on out.

The Associated Press and the Nevada Evening Gazette, now the Reno Gazette-Journal, contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Annalise Porter at aporter@reviewjournal.com.

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