STODDARD COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Officials from two Southeast Missouri counties are defending their efforts after a new state audit suggests dozens of registered sex offenders from both Butler and Stoddard Counties are not reporting their whereabouts to authorities.
Staff from the office of state auditor Nicole Galloway say more than 1,200 sex offenders are unaccounted for in Missouri, and that data used in the audit was pulled directly from Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Sex Offender Registration database in May 2018.
According to those numbers, the county with the worst percentage of non compliant sex offenders was Stoddard County at 25.2 percent, having 29 offenders not updating their registration out of 115 total.
Russ Oliver, the prosecuting attorney from Stoddard County, says the highways patrol’s database often does not match the records the county Sheriff’s office has, and thinks they are able to keep up with the workload.
“This is not a resources or priority issue,” said Oliver. “I think we do a good job of staying on top of the people that are out of compliance. You can look at our fillings we file a lot of failure to register as a sex offender and we see those cases through. Go on case net and you can find them all.”
Oliver calls the audit offensive and a ‘slap in the face’ to the county’s efforts to keep track of nearby sexual predators. He thinks there maybe other motives behind it’s release.
“It struck me as a disingenuous political ploy that was inaccurately portraying a system to gain votes,” he said. “An official is using their elected position to garner favor in an election that comes up in about 30 days.”
Oliver says he was first notified of the situation when the state auditor's office called him several months ago.
He asked staff for the full list of the ‘non compliant’ offenders so he could cross-check it with the county’s records, but says they only sent him a partial list of 11 names.
“Basically everyone one of those 11 people could not be termed as non-compliant," Oliver said. “I found people that were in the Department of Corrections, that were in county jails, that did not live here. Two of them had active warrants for failure to register as a sex offender and we were pursuing those cases."
Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner says following up with registered sex offenders is a high priority.
Even though they only have one officer to follow up with sex offenders, Hefner says their records show only a few are non-compliant and most of those have warrants out for their arrest.
“Our goal is to keep our children safe,” Hefner said. “Once a year we get a packet together on every registered sex offender in Stoddard County and we go and we personally make contact with that subject. We make sure he is complaint. We make sure he is working where he says he is and he is living where he says he is."
Butler County was also listed in the sex offender registration audit as having a 20 percent non-complaint rate. Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs describes the audit as unfair and out of date.
“Out of 225 registered sex offenders in this county, only 11 are overdue and are currently under investigation for failure to register as a sex offender,” Dobbs said.
He added that majority of the sex offenders in question are incarcerated at the Cydkam Center, a halfway house in Neelyville, MO. Because of that, Dobbs says the offenders can not physical come in to the Sheriffs Office to complete the registration process which requires a signature and a updated photo.