Sex Offender Busted Living Near School - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Perryville, MO

Sex Offender Busted Living Near School

 

Sex Offender Busted Living Near School
By: CJ Cassidy

Perryville, MO -It's an issue we've touched on time and time again: sex offenders living dangerously close to schools and daycares.

In Missouri, offenders must live at least 1,000 feet away from a school.

Now, police in one Southeast Missouri community say the number of offenders breaking that law has increased from about one every couple of years, to four arrests in the past four months!

One of those arrests shocked a Perryville woman.

Tina Abernathy recently found out the man she took into her home is a registered sex offender.

"He stayed here four or five days and he slept in the basement," she says.

That is, until Perryville police arrested Joseph Rhodes for living within 1,000 feet of an area school.

"We don't want to see them walking around a school taking pictures of the children," Chief Keith Tarrillion says.

Police say the distance should have been obvious to Rhodes, but they add often times it's up to the offender to figure out the distance between the offender's property and the school, and that can pose a problem.

"I think a good idea would be, once they're released from prison, their parole officer makes it a condition where they notify the jurisdictions into which they're moving to. That would help eliminate a lot of the problems," Chief Tarrillion says.

So does the 1,000 feet really make a difference?

"In people's minds yes, it does," Tarrillion says, adding "If someone wants to commit a crime, however, where they live doesn't keep them from committing a crime."

"GIven the proximity to my son's school, he could be out walking to and from a building or at recess, and the sex offender could approach my son or any one of the children," one concerned parent says.

Tina Abernathy agrees, but she also believes leaving the law up to an offender to follow is expecting too much.

"Make them take a class. They have classes for everything else, so there should be something to educate offenders and people in the community," she points out.

After hearing about the problem in Perryville, Wanda Seeney with the Department of Corrections

says she hopes to work with police to figure out how to keep better track of sex offenders.

Right now, offenders are expected to register with the county sheriff's departments, but again it's an obligation that's left up to them.

Here's how you can protect kids in your community:

Check the sex offender web sites posted by your local police regularly.

If you hear of folks who might be suspicious living near a school, call police.

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