Sulphur Springs police recently jailed three convicted sex offenders and believe a fourth has fled the city after officers began verifying their registration data.
“We have some guys that do everything that they’re supposed to do,” said Sulphur Springs Police Department Investigator Rusty Stillwagoner, who monitors the sex offender database in the city with fellow Investigator Bo Fox. “And some are just hard-headed and don’t want to comply.”
People convicted of sex crimes must register with local authorities after they are released from custody. Failing to do so can result in felony offenses being filed against them.
There are currently 20 active sex offenders in the city limits of Sulphur Springs, Stillwagoner said. Officers periodically check out some of the registration information for verification, usually one or two at a time.
“The three main things they must list are the address where they live, or when they move; their place of employment, or when they change employers; and the types of vehicles they drive,” Stillwagoner said. “There are some other minor requirements, but those are the main ones we check.”
On Thursday, May 7, Stillwagoner, Fox and Investigator Monty Tipps “basically did a little roundup.”
“We wanted to make sure that the sex offenders that are required to register with us were in compliance — living where they’re supposed to be, working where they said they would be,” Stillwagoner. “We do that from time to time, but this time we decided to take half the list and do it.”
Four of the 10 were not in compliance.
“They weren’t living at the address they’d given us as their address, and one wasn’t working where he said he was — he had a job but he’d changed jobs,” Stillwagoner said. “The others were unemployed.”
The investigators filed cases with the district attorney’s office for failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements.
For those who committed their sex crimes as juveniles, they are only required to register for 10 years after their conviction. Failing to meet the requirements is a state jail felony.
Anybody who committed a sex crime as an adult is required to register annually; failing to meet those requirements is a third-degree felony. For those required to register every 90 days and fail to meet the requirements, the crime is a second-degree felony.
“We actually filed two third-degree felonies and two state jail felonies,” Stillwagoner said. “We made one on-site arrest, because we had information one of the sex offenders was staying in a residence on Connally Street where he wasn’t supposed to have been living.”
Two others were arrested on the warrants Wednesday.
“One is still at large. We believe him to be in the Dallas area,” the investigator said.
That warrant information has been entered into state and national crime information databases, accessible by all U.S. law enforcement agencies.
“If he is encountered by law enforcement anywhere and they run a check on him, they’ll find out that he’s wanted and arrest him on that charge,” Stillwagoner said.
The investigator added that it’s not enough for a register offender to physically be at a location listed as the residence. There must be proof that they live at that location. But some, Stillwagoner said, try to “play” the officers.
“We had a guy that actually tried to tell us, ‘No, I live here,’” Stillwagoner said. “But he couldn’t show us clothes, he couldn’t show us mail, he couldn’t show us anything.
“He can argue his situation in court.”
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