Master of Disguise: Fugitive Had Plastic Surgery Years Before Girlfriend Found in Trunk in Tijuana

The puffy-faced 50-year-old Tyler Adams has managed to elude law enforcement on both sides of the border since crossing into the US on June 16

Tyler Adams in a photo released by the FBI

When Tyler Adams most recently came into the public eye, photos released of the missing man — the father of a then-missing baby and the husband of a woman found dead in a trunk — prompted a common reaction: What happened to that guy's face?

Adams, a fugitive wanted by authorities in Mexico and the U.S., was last seen crossing the border into the U.S. on June 16 when his handover to U.S. Customs and Border Protection somehow went awry.

Raquel Sabean

Adams is wanted for questioning by Mexican authorities over the death of his girlfriend in Tijuana.

Racquel Sabean, Adams' girlfriend, crossed the border into Mexico on April 17 with Adams and their 7-month-old daughter Valentina. Sabean’s badly decomposed body was found in the back of her mother’s car in Tijuana on May 31.

On June 8, Mexican authorities issued an Amber Alert to find Valentina. Adams was detained in Tecate on June 15 and questioned over her whereabouts. The baby was later found safe in Rosarito, according to the FBI.

The following day, authorities in Mexico turned Adams over to CBP officers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry because he was also wanted in the U.S. after escaping custody in Hawaii in 2019, according to the Baja California Attorney General's Office. The FBI said last month that Adams presented a fake ID with one of his aliases, and was freed to cross back into the U.S.

“Clearly something went wrong” in the transfer, but “the focus now should be on getting him picked up and into custody,” said FBI spokesperson Bill McNamara.

NBC 7's Rory Devine spoke with the stepfather of the man wanted by Mexican authorities for the murder of his girlfriend in Tijuana.

The puffy-faced 50-year-old has been in the public eye before. In 2012, he plead guilty to felony identity theft charges after using his mother and stepfather's information to obtain millions in real estate. While serving a seven-year prison sentence in San Diego County, alleged he was beaten by fellow prisoners.

He filed a formal complaint with the sheriff's department claiming injuries from the attack resulted in alterations to previous plastic surgeries:

"I was assaulted by two inmates; Melvin Brice and Timothy White; and the assault resulted in dislodging my cheek implant and chin implant — as well as bashing in my nose causing severe injury, so that I can no longer breathe out of my right nostril. Medical did not provide timely nor adequate medical care. The [San Diego Sheriff's Department] acted with deliberate indifference to my serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment."

At the time, Adams asked for immediate surgery to remedy his problems. It's not known if he did undergo the requested medical treatment, but what is known is that his complaint was rejected on Aug. 8 of that same year.

The following month, Adams called the office of San Diego County District Attorney to report the incident, also telling the DA's office that he failed to report the assault to deputies at that time and that he believed the incident was committed against him because of his religion, Messianic Judaism.

A glance at photos taken of him over the years reveal the many faces of Tyler Adams, or Kevin Schoolcraft, the name he was given at birth. Adams has used more than a dozen aliases over the years, helping him to successfully elude authorities — even now, more than two weeks after crossing into the United States.

CBP has not responded to NBC 7's questions about why Adams was able to freely cross instead of being kept in custody.

NBC 7's Amber Frias spoke to the father of the wanted man's girlfriend about his past and how he may have slipped by border agents.
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