Ashtabula native tracking 'criminals' on CBS

Charles DeBarber

 ASHTABULA — A 32-year-old Ashtabula native will "hunt" 18 contestants in a new competition reality TV show at 8 tonight on CBS.

Charles DeBarber, an Army veteran and intelligence and cyber security professional, will be involved in a real-life manhunt tasked with tracking and catching contestants in the show "Hunted."

"I am on the cyber team doing everything from scouring cell phones and computers histories to tracking (the contestants') devices," he said Tuesday during a phone interview from Hollywood. 

The show debuted Sunday, but moves into its regular time slot tonight.

DeBarber said he will "dig up anything" the contestants have put on social media. He will study a contestant's inner circle of friends on Facebook, for example, and figure out who is most likely to assist him or her.

"If you are going to chase criminals, you need to think like your target," he said. "That's what I do best."

The opportunity to do just that attracted him to the show, he said.

DeBarber will work with other "hunters" in a Command Center to identify clues to potential hiding places. 

The goal of the contestants, also known as fugitives, is to stay off the grid and avoid being found for up to 28 days within 100,000 square miles of the southeastern United States. Each team that succeeds wins $250,000, according to the CBS website. 

Joining DeBarber as one of the hunters on "Hunted" is Youngstown native Robert W. Clark, who retired from the FBI in May after a 30-year career in law enforcement. Clark oversees the investigative unit that includes military, national and local law enforcement, as well as the private sector, according to Dustin Smith, a CBS spokesperson.

DeBarber joined the Army in 2004 and became a Senior Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) analyst. He got the nickname "Sly Fox" while deployed in Iraq and served in operations in support of special ops and conventional forces, he said.

He really enjoyed cyber work during his time in the military, he said, so after 10 years in the Army, DeBarber took his cyber expertise to the private sector. He moved to Baltimore, Maryland.

"It reminded me of Ashtabula," he said. "I miss my hometown, but I wanted to avoid the snowbelt."

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