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Alleged California Sex Offender Found in Louisiana — With 4 Missing Kids

Joseph Moreno, 37, was arrested at an interstate convenience store west of New Orleans. Four children, all listed as missing in California, were found in a car outside the store.
Penny L. Rascon and Joseph F. Moreno
Penny L. Rascon and Joseph F. Moreno

A California man wanted for the alleged sexual assault of a child in that state was found Sunday morning in Louisiana with four missing children, police said.

Joseph Moreno, 37, was arrested with Penny Rascon, 37, at a highway convenience store in Acadia Parish, west of New Orleans, shortly after 7:00 a.m. CT, Louisiana State Police spokesman Brooks David said in a news release.

Rascon's four children, all of whom were listed as missing in California, were found in a car outside the store.

Joseph F. MorenoLouisiana State Police

The children were ages four, six, seven and eight, David said, adding that they appeared hungry and dirty.

The U.S. Marshal's Service had alerted state troopers earlier Sunday that Rascon and Moreno could be traveling through Louisiana together.

Penny L. RasconLouisiana State Police

David told NBC News that Rascon and Moreno are a couple, and that the children were listed as missing from Dos Palos, in California's Central Valley, after the pair fled the state to evade Moreno's arrest.

It was unclear where they were going, he said.

Moreno was booked on a California warrant charging him with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, David said. Rascon was charged with child abduction. Both will be extradited to California, David said.

Troopers purchased food and drinks for the children, David said, and at the state police station they were given blankets, pillows and toys before being released to the state Department of Children and Family Services.