BAY ST. LOUIS -- A man once considered one of South Mississippi's most-wanted criminal suspects is on the run again, accused of slipping out of court after a judge ordered him to take a drug test.
Melvin Patrick Mason, 43, had been out of jail on bond since a federal task force arrested him on a fugitive warrant on child sex-crime charges in May 2012.
Mason showed up for his arraignment Monday in Hancock County Circuit Court to enter a plea on 10 counts of touching of a child for lustful purposes and three counts of sexual battery.
Mason had not yet entered his plea when Judge John Gargiulo asked him if he would test positive for illegal drugs, Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said. Mason told the judge he would test positive for marijuana.
The judge ordered a drug test and an officer was called to court to perform the test but officials learned Mason had disappeared, Daniel said.
The judge revoked Mason's bond and issued a warrant for his arrest.
"The sheriff's office and federal marshals are looking for him," Daniel said.
Mason is a member of the Aryan Brotherhood street gang, said Glenn Grannan, Hancock County sheriff's chief investigator.
"He's probably a danger to any kids he may come in contact with," Grannan said.
The alleged victim in the case was under age 14.
Mason's picture and information on his alleged crimes were published in the Sun Herald's most-wanted series April 29, 2012. Two weeks later, officials said, they got a tip and found Mason hiding in a closet at his sister-in-law's apartment on Cuandet Road in Gulfport.
Authorities arrested his sister-in-law, Larkin Mason, on a charge of harboring a fugitive. She tested positive for drugs at her arraignment Feb. 3, Daniel said, and her bond was revoked. She is held at the Hancock County jail.
To give a tip on Melvin Mason's whereabouts, call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898 or Hancock County dispatchers at 255-9191.