Faculty member at Jamaican university arrested for decades-old sexual assaults in Margate

Suspect taught at school for more than 18 years, now in Broward County jail being held without bond.

Russell McLean became a person of interest in crimes that happened in 1996 and 1997 in Margate, then he moved to Jamaica. But now he's behind bars in Broward County.

MARGATE, Fla. – A man who police said is responsible for several sexual batteries that happened between June of 1996 and November of 1997 in Margate will remain in jail without bond.

Russell McLean was arrested in May in Jamaica where he was a faculty member at Northern Caribbean University, which identifies itself as a “Seventh-day Adventist institution, which has as its mission, quality Christ-centred education . . .”.

He was extradited on July 7 back to Broward County.

Investigators said McLean would break into homes and threaten victims with a gun in order to assault them. Two of the crimes occurred in the City of Margate. Despite all the victims giving the same description of the suspect, the investigation had few leads, and no suspects were identified, according to police.

In 2007, evidence recovered in a burglary case led to the identification of McLean as a person of interest. But, over the next several years, the ongoing investigation failed to further implicate him.

Investigators said when he realized he was being investigated for the crimes, McLean fled to Jamaica.

In 2015, Detective Julio Fernandez re-investigated the case and began combing over previous reports and evidence. In 2018, Fernandez obtained DNA evidence and compared it to DNA located in rape kits from 1996. The results were conclusive that McLean’s DNA was a match.

Police said that at that point McLean’s whereabouts were still unknown in Jamaica.

In August of 2020, an arrest warrant for multiple counts of armed sexual battery, armed kidnapping, and armed burglary was issued for McLean.

On May 24, 2022, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, McLean was located in Jamaica, where he was serving as a faculty member at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville.

He was a lecturer in the College of Humanities, Behavioral and Social Sciences, according to the school. The Jamaica Observer said he had worked at the school for more than 18 years.

Pursuant to an extradition request filed with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, McLean consented to be extradited to the United States.

He is currently being held at the Broward County Jail where he is being held with no bond.

Based on McLean’s criminal activity, investigators believe there may be more victims.

Anyone who believes they were a victim or who has further information is asked to contact the Margate Police Department at (954) 972-7111

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.