A building at Creekside Forest Apartment Homes off I-20, photographed Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. JOSHUA SHARPE/JOSHUA.SHARPE@AJC.COM

Where in the world is the fugitive DeKalb landlord?

DeKalb County officials hoping to spot the elusive owner of Creekside Forest Apartment Homes were left waiting this week.

He had sent word he might go to court Tuesday to answer to the 338 code violations against his crumpling complex. 

He didn't show.

This couldn't have been a complete surprise. The landlord, whose property is among south DeKalb's most talked about blighted, crime-addled developments, faces a bench warrant from when he skipped court in September.

On Tuesday, he actually had no hearing scheduled. It was unclear why he chose that day to come (or toy with the idea of coming).

But much about him is unclear.

Take, for instance, his name.

Residents, who said they stopped paying rent because the complex near I-20 was falling apart with trash piled high, knew him only as "Chester."

They said he was from New York, wore a yarmulke and only came around occasionally. 

County officials first released his name as "Nisels Cheskel" in early September as outrage rose over the living conditions. Officials spoke kindly of the man, who they said was cooperating with efforts to clean up the complex, where some residents didn't have power or water and squatters took hold.

September 7, 2016 Decatur, GA: Creekside Forest Apartment Homes in Decatur has fallen into disrepair. The few residents who remain are living rent free but with no maintenance services or support. The leasing office has been closed for several months, mail is no longer delivered, windows are broken, and litter covers the ground. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Brant Sanderlin

He fell out of favor when he skipped court.

The next name, mentioned in a press release announcing the bench warrant, was "Chester Meisel."

Attorney Jeb Butler's best bet is the fugitive is Cheskel Meisels, who might have the nickname Chester. 

Butler is representing the families of two drive-by victims who were shot at the apartments in January, including 15-year-old Jaylon Maddox, who died.

Police on the scene of where a teenager was killed outside the complex in January. (Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com)

On Wednesday, Butler said he didn't know how to reach Meisels. 

The sheriff's office, which typically doesn't discuss fugitive investigations, declined to comment.

But the attorney can offer a glint of hope for anyone searching for the landlord.

VIDEO: Walk through Creekside Forest apartment complex in South Dekalb

Butler suspects Meisels is the same Chester Meisels who is affiliated with TAG Acquisitions LLC in Spring Valley, New York. 

"TAG" is also part of the company name associated with Creekside Forest, Creekside by TAG. 

TAG Acquisitions has a sleek website which invites "GET IN TOUCH WITH US."

Chester Meisels' name is first in the telephone directory at TAG Acquisitions: ext. 101.

But...

No one answers. The number forwards to voicemail. It belongs to a woman, not Meisels. The caller is asked to leave a message. The mailbox is full. 

The mailboxes are also full for the people supposedly at extensions 102, 103 and 104. (Curiously, there is no ext. 105.)

At ext. 106, there is a man named Jake. His inbox is not full.

But...

A message left with him wasn't immediately returned Thursday.

Of course, Jake isn't the wanted one anyway.

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Residents of a trash-filled and partially burned-down condo complex, Creekside Forest Apartment Homes, in DeKalb County talk about crime and unstable living conditions.

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