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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deaths of 24 Unnamed Former Offenders

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Inmate dies after altercation in prison (Civil Commitment Center)

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Civil Commitment Deaths Drawn from Other Sources

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Fight ends in suicide attempt, detainee says

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Sex offenders cite abuses, advocate says

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Former ASH Patient's Death Prompts Review

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Civil Commitment Deaths

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A Sexually Violent Predator Killed (Actually a Mental Health Patient)

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Civil Detainee's Death Comes Amid Allegations That Coalinga State Hospital Falls Dangerously Short In Medical Care

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Most Kansas sexual predators don't leave program

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lawyer accused in neighbor’s fatal stabbing

8-31-2006 Connecticut:

Connecticut attorney suspected of killing over child-molestation suspicions

A lawyer climbed through a neighbor’s bedroom window and stabbed him to death after being told by a family member that the man had molested his 2-year-old daughter, authorities say.

Barry James, 58, was stabbed in the chest nearly a dozen times Monday. The lawyer, Jonathon Edington, 29, was charged with murder and burglary and was released on $1 million bail Wednesday.

Capt. Gary MacNamara said that police had not received a complaint about the child being assaulted before the killing, and “we have no indication it’s true or not true.”

Edington’s attorney, Michael Sherman, said the information came from Edington’s wife. “The daughter gave the mother information which was alarming and disturbing. The mom relayed it to her husband. That was the spark,” Sherman said.

James’ 87-year-old mother discovered his body. When officers went to Edington’s home, they found him standing by his kitchen sink with what appeared to be blood on him, and a large kitchen knife next to him on a counter, authorities said

“He’s in shock,” Edington’s attorney said. “This is the most unexpected turn of events one can imagine with this young man’s background.”

Police had gone to the neighborhood before, when Edington called to complain that he could see James through a window, police said. “Either he was partly clothed or revealed parts of his anatomy that were inappropriate,” MacNamara said.

Edington, a graduate of Syracuse University and Fordham University Law School, has been practicing patent law, Sherman said. Police said Edington has no criminal record.

Rita James declined to comment on her son’s death.

James served two days behind bars in 2001 on a drunken driving charge, according to the state Correction Department.

“He had some bizarre behavior over the last month,” said Darrell Maynard, a neighbor. “He drove his car through his garage, hit the other neighbor’s building.”

Another time a neighbor found James intoxicated on the street, Maynard said. James shouted obscenities at children, he said.

As for Edington, Maynard said: “Something had to happen that was terrible for this to have occurred.” Edington “seemed like a computer geek or something. He was not anybody you would ever feel you were threatened by.” ..Source.. by MSNBC

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Lawyer gets 12 years for killing suspect

8-31-2007 Connecticut:

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A lawyer who stabbed his neighbor to death because he thought the man had molested his 2-year-old daughter was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter.

"It's a Shakespearean tragedy brought into the real world," Superior Court Judge Richard F. Comerford Jr. said at the sentencing. "Something was set into motion in this man's mind -- real or perceived. It was very real to him."

Jonathon Edington, 30, attacked neighbor Barry James, 58, in James' bedroom last year after his wife told him she thought James had molested their daughter. Officers said they found Edington washing the victim's blood off in a kitchen sink.

Fairfield police also investigated the molestation allegation and said they found no evidence to back it up. They said Edington's wife, Christina, refused to cooperate with the investigation of the slaying, and prosecutor Jonathan Benedict has said a defense psychiatrist determined she suffered from postpartum depression.

Jonathon Edington's attorney, Andrew Bowman, said Edington was not in his right mind when he cut through a window screen, climbed into the room and stabbed James 11 times.

"He is a good and decent man who suffered such a traumatic event in his life that he lost control," Bowman said, urging a more lenient sentence of five to eight years in prison.

Edington, a patent attorney, and his wife entered court holding hands. After the sentence was read, Edington, who had been free on bond, was handcuffed and led away as Christina Edington fell to her knees. The judge issued a 20-year sentence in a plea bargain, but suspended eight years of that, leaving 12 years to serve, plus five years' probation.

"He is extremely remorseful and takes responsibility for his actions as he has always done," Bowman said after sentencing.

James' parents, Rita and Charlie James, filed a victims' statement with the court saying, "We will never be the same." Rita James witnessed her son's stabbing.

"A terrible tragedy has happened for nothing, but it has destroyed all that we have," they wrote.

Also Friday, an attorney for the Jameses served Christina Edington with a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing her of triggering the stabbing and making up the abuse claim. A similar lawsuit is pending against Edington.

Christina Edington did not comment as she left the courthouse.

Benedict had asked the judge to impose the maximum 20-year prison sentence.

"I'm a bit disappointed," he said after the hearing. "To the judge's credit, it was a very difficult case, a tough call."

James' family also wanted the full 20 years.

"Many lives have been destroyed here," said Charlene Benoit, James' sister. "Twelve years is not nearly enough. I think it's a terrible injustice for my brother."

James' relatives said he was a good person who was kind to others and devoted to his elderly parents. They said the molestation claim was an outrage.

"As if taking his flesh was not enough, you went after his good name with your twisted accusations," Benoit said at the hearing, directing her comments toward Jonathon Edington. ..Source.. by Dave Collins

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Man guilty in Fairfield homicide offers no explanation

10-29-2010:

After stabbing his neighbor on a quiet Fairfield street 13 times after his wife told him the neighbor molested their young daughter, Jonathon Edington walked back to his house and calmly called 911.

"You need to send an ambulance to 101 Colony St.," Edington is heard calmly telling the emergency dispatcher on the 4-year-old recording that was played Thursday to a Bridgeport Superior Court jury. "You need to send police, too ... there has been a stabbing."

When the dispatcher pressed Edington to tell him who did the stabbing, Edington hung up.

But at the home next door, it was anything but calm.

"A man just stabbed my son!" screamed Charles James on the 911 tape when he found 59-year-old Barry James lying in a pool of blood on the floor. "It was some neighbor. What did he do this for?"

The 33-year-old Edington, a patent lawyer, later pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing Barry James on Aug. 28, 2006. However, he now is facing trial before a civil court jury as the James' family seeks to clear the victim's name.

Edington, a lawyer who despite evidence to the contrary, maintains that James molested his 2-year-old daughter, is representing himself and plans to testify before the six-member jury when the trial resumes Friday morning.

In opening arguments Thursday, Edington told the jury he has no explanation for stabbing his disabled neighbor to death.

"I wish I had an explanation of what happened. I have no explanation for you or for the James family," he told the jury in his opening statement.

But Richard Meehan Jr., who represents the family of Barry James, had no trouble explaining to the jurors why the plaintiffs feel they should find Edington responsible for the victim's death and order him to pay damages to the James' family.

"Barry James died at the age of 59. This man had no right to take his life," Meehan argued.

Meehan presented four witnesses in his case Thursday, Fairfield police Officers Gregory Gunter, Robert Chaisson and Frederick Hine, and James' sister Charlene Benoit.

Gunter said when he arrived at the Edington home, he saw Edington standing at the kitchen sink washing James' blood off his hands. "He was unemotional, as well as cool, calm and collected," the officer testified.

In addition to investigating James' death, Hine also said he investigated Christine Edington's claim that James molested their daughter.

Hine said they tested the little girl's bedding, her clothing and checked her bedroom window for James' fingerprints and turned up nothing. "No evidence of a sexual assault was found," he added.

Benoit testified her brother suffered from a heart condition and Type Two diabetes, and needed help to walk up stairs.

Meehan ended his case showing the jury a videotaped deposition or questioning session with James' 91-year-old mother, Rita.

In it, Rita James recalls walking into her son's bedroom to see Edington confronting him.

"He was saying something to Barry about his daughter," the frail woman recalled. Her son responded: "I don't even know your daughter," and then Rita James said she saw Edington pounding his fist over and over into the victim's chest. It wasn't until seconds later that she realized Edington was holding a knife in the fist. ..Source.. by Daniel Tepfer, Staff Writer

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Insurer won't cover Fairfielder who fatally stabbed neighbor

Oct. 27--BRIDGEPORT -- A Superior Court judge on Monday ruled a Fairfield lawyer, who fatally stabbed his disabled neighbor three years ago because he erroneously believed the man had molested his daughter, won't get help from his insurance company in the lawsuit filed against him by the victim's family.

Judge Richard Arnold, in a 19-page decision, stated USAA Casualty Insurance Co. is not responsible for any civil verdict against Jonathan Edington because of his policy's exclusion against intentional or criminal acts.

In August 2007, Edington pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, suspended after he serves 12 years, followed by five years probation, for fatally stabbing 59-year-old Barry James in his Colony Street home on Aug. 28, 2006.

Richard Meehan Jr., who represents the James family, said their lawsuit against Edington will head to trial in Superior Court next month.

"Judge Arnold's decision does not affect our lawsuit against Jonathan Edington, it just means his insurance company will not cover him" for any damages, Meehan said.

James, stabbed by Edington nearly a dozen times in the chest, was found by his 87-year-old mother, Rita, lying on the floor of his bedroom at 101 Colony St. in Fairfield, police said.

A short time later, officers went next door to the Edington house at 111 Colony St. and found the suspect at the kitchen sink, his hands and arms covered in the victim's blood.

Rita

Barry told police she was in her kitchen when she heard an argument erupt in her son's bedroom. She entered the room and saw a man climb in through the window, push her son to the floor and stab him repeatedly.

After the attack, the intruder jumped out the window, Rita James told police, adding that she saw the man run to the house next door.

The Edingtons, who were renting the Colony Street house, were vacationing in Rhode Island with family on Aug. 28, 2006, but Jonathan Edington returned home before his wife and two children. Police said when Edington got home, he received a call from his wife who told him their daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, had just told her that she had been abused by Barry James in their home and in his car.

Edington, apparently enraged by the call, ran to the James home and leapt through the window of James' first-floor bedroom and stabbed him to death.

Christina Edington had previously complained to Fairfield police that she could see James walking around the bedroom in his underwear from her kitchen window. Police went to the James home, and Barry James agreed to keep the blinds down in his room when he was undressed. After James' death and her husband's arrest, Christina Edington filed a complaint with police in which she claimed James had molested their daughter.

Fairfield police conducted an intensive investigation into Christina Edington's claims and determined it was improbable that James, who was diabetic and couldn't walk without leg braces, could have pulled himself up the 4 feet to the Edington daughter's window, crawl inside and molest the girl while her parents were home, as Christina Edington had claimed.

James' family later filed the lawsuit against Christina Edington, contending that her false accusations against James contributed to her husband's attack, but a judge threw out that suit. ..Source.. by AllBusiness.com

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Police: Killer accused man of molestation, gunned him down

Posted in Related Deaths
1-26-2012 Washington:

A Des Moines man accused of killing a man after accusing him of molesting children has been charged with murder.

King County prosecutors contend Denzil R. Moore shot Thomas R. Humphries at point-blank range during an argument inside Moore’s pickup truck on Jan. 10. The Des Moines man and a purported accomplice are alleged to have then dumped Humphries’ body at a vacant house in Auburn, where it lay undiscovered for days.

“Moore effectively executed a man,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz told the court. Moore, 41, has threatened to kill others who know the details of the killing and is believed to have a list of people to kill, the prosecutor added.

A review of court records showed Humphries has not been arrested for or convicted of sex crimes in Washington. He was not listed on the county sex offender registry.

Police learned of the killing just before 11 a.m. on Jan. 14, when a gardener at a vacant Auburn home called 911 to report a body, Detective Buie Arneson told the court.

Mowing the lawn at the home in the 11100 block of Southeast 304th Street, the gardener noticed Humphries in the grass behind the home. When he found the 57-year-old man was dead, he called the police.

Officers responded to the scene and found Humphries partially stripped with his jacket pulled over his face, his pants around his knees and wounds to his torso and head. Two .22-caliber casings were found amid a pile of broken safety glass nearby.

A medical examiner later determined Humphries had been shot three times in the left shoulder; one of the bullets pierced his heart. He was also shot in the back of the head. A fifth round is believed to have struck his belt.

Having identified Humphries by his fingerprints, police contacted a friend of his the following day who said she’d last seen him on Jan. 9, five days before the body was found. At the same time, a King County deputy sheriff notified Auburn police that he had a witness to the killing – Glae M. Roland – in custody.

According to court documents, Roland, 34, told investigators that on Jan. 10 he met up with Moore, whom he knew well, and Humphries at a Goodwill store in Des Moines hoping to get a ride to work. All three climbed into Moore’s GMC pickup and headed toward Roland’s place of employment in Kent.

On the way, though, Moore began accusing Humphries of molesting children, Arneson told the court. As the argument intensified, the detective continued, Moore pulled a .22-caliber pistol and pointed it at Humphries.

Moore pulled into a gas station, Ernie’s Truck Stop, around 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. and shot Humphries at once, Arneson continued. Moore then drove from the area with Humphries mortally injured in his passenger’s seat.

Continuing to drive, Moore shot Humphries four more times as Roland looked on from the rear passenger’s seat, according to charging documents.


“Moore told Roland that he needed to call in and say that he would be late because they needed to get rid of the body,” Arneson told the court.

Moore then drove to the vacant home and, with Roland’s help, dumped Humphries’ body on the grass, the detective said in court documents.

Following the killing, Moore tossed some of Humphries’ belongings in the Green River, then spent $5 taken from Humphries at a convenience store, Arneson added.

Police contend the men returned to the house the night after the body was discovered to hide it better.

Gloved and masked, the men found the property had been cleared and that the body was gone, the detective told the court. They searched the area with flashlights and noticed orange spray paint marks left behind by death investigators.

Concerned that police had discovered Humphries, the men repainted the truck and concocted a story they would tell police if arrested, Roland allegedly told investigators.

Having taken Roland’s statement, officers arrested Moore at his Des Moines home. Moore allegedly told police the fabricated story Roland said they rehearsed after finding the body had been removed.

According to charging documents, Moore threatened to kill Roland, his family and at least one woman who learned of the killing if any of them spoke to police.

Jailed on $1 million bail, Moore has been charged with first-degree murder. Roland, who also remains jailed, has been charged with rendering criminal assistance to Moore following the crime. ..Source.. by LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

Sex offenders are easy prey for vigilantes

4-24-2006 Connecticut:

To find convicted sex offenders in your neighborhood, all you need is a computer with Internet access.

That's also all it takes for vigilantes to hunt down these offenders.

That's what happened this month in Maine, where 20-year-old Stephen A. Marshall shot and killed two registered sex offenders whose addresses he found on the state's on-line registry. Marshall then took a bus to Boston and shot himself to death as police officers were approaching to apprehend him.

This wasn't the first time a vigilante used a registry to find and kill sex offenders. Last August, a man in Bellingham, Wash., posed as an FBI agent to get into the home of two registered sex offenders and fatally shot both of them.

While Connecticut also lists all of its sex offenders on the Internet, vigilante retaliation has not been a problem here so far, said Sgt. J. Paul Vance, Connecticut State Police spokesman. The state's on-line registry includes photos and information about 4,053 convicted sex offenders, including each offender's name, address, birth date, race, height, weight and conviction information. Most people use the site for information, not retaliation, Vance said.


"It is clearly stated on the Web site and in the statute that using registry information for violent purposes is inappropriate and illegal," he said. "The site is there so that people can find out if any of these offenders live in their neighborhood."

Connecticut's registry was created in 1998 under the state's "Megan's Law," which is named for Megan Nicole Kanka, a 7-year-old from New Jersey who was raped and murdered in 1994 by a neighbor with a record of sex crimes.

While the federal Megan's Law requires all states to keep a registry of sex offenders, different states take different measures to comply with the statute. Forty-eight states post their registries of sex offenders on the Internet, said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, a New York-based victims' rights organization.

But while violence against registered sex offenders has not been a problem in Connecticut, it's not uncommon for them to be harassed and threatened by their neighbors.

Anthony Bonacassio, 41, said the registry is destroying his life. In 1993, he was arrested on charges of third-degree sexual assault and first-degree unlawful restraint. He said he was arrested because he groped his girlfriend of two years as she was leaving his house after a dispute. He spent 30 months in jail.

Thirteen years later, he's still listed on the state's list.

"I've been harassed and threatened by neighbors who don't even know my story," Bonacassio said. "They think I'm a molester or something. And you can't really explain to them that it was a girlfriend, we were breaking up and fighting, and I grabbed her."

Bonacassio said he supports Megan's laws, but thinks the registry should do a better job distinguishing between offenders who are dangerous and those who aren't.

"They're putting people like me in the same category as pedophiles and rapists," he said.

Law enforcement officials and proponents of Megan's Law argue that the more information the state gives its residents, the safer these residents are. Information about sex offenders is particularly important because they are more likely to repeat their offenses than other types of criminals, Ahearn said.
While the study below does show that released sex offenders are statistically more likely to commit a new sex offense within 3 years of release, in reality the study shows that released non-sex offenders commit 6 sex offenses for every 1 committed by a released sex offender. That fact Ms. Ahearn fails to mention! see chart and review created from that DOJ study.
An analysis from the U.S. Department of Justice found that sex offenders who were released from state prisons in 1994 were four times more likely to be rearrested for sex crimes than other criminals. Of the released sex offenders, defined as "men who had committed rape or sexual assault," 5.3 percent were rearrested for another sex crime within three years.

Of the 48 states that post sex offender registries on the Internet, 26, including Connecticut, list every offender in their registry, Ahearn said. Even so, Connecticut's version of Megan's Law received a failing grade from Ahearn's organization, largely because it doesn't require officials to notify residents when offenders move to their neighborhood. She said her organization is in favor of listing all sex offenders, regardless of the charges.

These days, scanning a neighborhood for registered sex offenders is easy. The Web site www.familywatchdog.us allows users to plug in an address, a city, a state or a Zip code and instantly see a map with all the houses where registered sex offenders live. Clicking on a house brings up a photo of the offender with information such as height, weight, race, address and charges.

This months's murders in Maine did little to diminish the popularity of Megan's laws in Maine and across the nation. Maine took down the online registry the day of the crimes, but put it back up the next day. And while the Maine murders bolster civil libertarians' arguments that Megan's Law violates sex offenders' right to privacy, Ahearn said vigilante cases are extremely rare and in no way suggest the law should be reexamined.

"When civil libertarians come out against Megan's Law because of vigilante activity, that is unacceptable," she said "It was one particular disturbed person who, in his sick mind, made these people his target." ..more.. by GENNADY SHEYNER (Also in his personal blog)

DA: Man plotted to burn down sex offenders' home

Updated: 4-24-2007

9-20-2006 New York:

A Mastic man pleaded not guilty to attempted-murder charges Wednesday in an alleged plot to burn down a house where four Level 3 sex offenders lived, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Spota said police detectives, acting on a tip earlier this month, sent an undercover officer to befriend Donald Keegan, a county employee and part-time landscaper who lives less than a mile from the home he planned to torch on Eleanor Avenue. The officer used a hidden camera with audio to tape Keegan, 36, in the backyard of the target home. "I'm going to be going to them from the back, but I'm going to be lighting the side," Keegan told the detective. "The main concern is, I don't know how to explain this: I want them dead."

Keegan planned to burn the house on the evening of Sept. 9, Spota said, using paint thinner and a road flare detectives found in the front seat of Keegan's Ford Mustang when they arrested him that night. Police, who wiretapped Keegan after getting the tip, searched his home and car after the arrest, and found a pit where Keegan did test burns to determine how fast the paint thinner would burn materials.

"He expressed very clearly not only to burn down the house, but kill the sex offenders," Spota said at a news conference Wednesday. "Never should a person be taking the law into their own hands seeking to burn down a house, no matter who they are."

Keegan was charged in Suffolk County Court with nine counts, including second-degree attempted murder and second-degree attempted arson, both felonies with maximum prison terms of 25 years. Keegan is being held on $1 million cash bail or $2 million bond.

Keegan's attorney, Daniel Driscoll, of Bay Shore, entered a not guilty plea on each count.

Driscoll described Keegan as a "very hard-working family man who worked ... to support his young wife and 2-year-old daughter."

Spota said Keegan, who worked for Suffolk's Department of Public Works, falsified his county application by not indicating prior arrests, which included convictions for criminal possession of a weapon, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and two petty larcenies.

The home on Eleanor Avenue sparked outrage in recent weeks since the Mastic Park Civic Association went door-to-door to inform residents that sex offenders had moved in.

Some residents said they began keeping their children indoors after the news and launched a series of protests.

Last week, Suffolk police informed the offenders they had 45 days to leave the house because it was within a quarter-mile of a previously unnoticed educational site on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation, a violation of a new county residency restriction law.

The four offenders had been convicted of crimes ranging from forcible rape to sodomy. Charlie Manolakos, the landlord of the Eleanor Avenue house, said the offenders had been harassed since they moved into the home in June.

"Much of the community has made threats against them ... I'm glad they caught him," he said. Even residents who led the campaign to oust the offenders applauded Keegan's arrest.

"I was shocked that someone would do something so stupid," said John Sicignano, president of the Mastic Park Civic Association. ...more... by BRANDON BAIN

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Threats of Violence as Homes for Sex Offenders Cluster in Suffolk

10-9-2006 New York (Long Island):

MASTIC, N.Y. — Not long after four men moved into the small ranch-style home at 115 Eleanor Avenue this summer, one man is said to have readied a special greeting.

Donald Keegan (later donvicted of trying to burn down homes of RSOs), a fellow resident of this working-class Suffolk County town, prepared a concoction of paint thinner and road flares to burn the place and, the police said, kill the occupants, who had all recently served prison time for crimes including rape and sodomy.

The four housemates, ranging in age from 36 to 74, were all registered as Level 3 sex offenders, the highest rating, saved for those the state deems “most likely to re-offend.” One had attacked a man in a wheelchair; the others’ victims were girls ages 8, 9 and 11.

Mr. Keegan was arrested before the plot could be carried out, but his case has exposed a raw and widespread fear over spreading clusters of sex offenders in Suffolk County’s lower-income neighborhoods, like Mastic — where opponents say 76 offenders live within a five-mile radius — and nearby Coram and Gordon Heights, where 39 offenders, most having assaulted children, live within a square half-mile, many grouped in the same houses. This is the highest concentration of Level 2 and 3 offenders on Long Island.

As laws across the country have radically restricted where sex offenders can live once released from prison, a growing number of landlords here and elsewhere are marketing their properties to the ex-convicts, who often receive government rent subsidies. While some landlords see a business opportunity or even a moral calling in opening their doors to such a vilified population, many residents say the clusters threaten the safety of their children.

Mr. Keegan, 36, is in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead, with bail set at $1 million, and is facing a sentence of up to 25 years on charges of attempted murder and attempted arson. A county maintenance worker, he lives with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter on Patchogue Avenue, whose residents include two convicted child rapists, state records show.

In a jailhouse interview, Mr. Keegan insisted on his innocence but said, “I would do anything to protect my daughter.”

The situation at 115 Eleanor developed even as the authorities moved to evict the four men, having decided that after-school programs at the community center on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation — a block from the house — should have disqualified the site for sex offenders. A new county law took effect in June barring registered offenders from living within a quarter-mile of a school, playground or licensed day care center.

Though two of the four offenders have already moved out of the house, state and local politicians are now scrambling to reduce these clusters; one Suffolk County lawmaker has introduced legislation that would bar the Department of Social Services from putting more than one offender in a single house.

Charles Manolakos, who owns 115 Eleanor Avenue, defended his tenants as “citizens who have paid their debt and have a right to live there.” But Joyce Pulliam, who lives across the street, complained that the authorities “protect the sex offenders more than us.”

“They’re letting four and five offenders gather in a single house to create little sex offender clubs to prey on our children,” said Ms. Pulliam, who has worked strenuously to rally neighbors against the newcomers to her block. “The police have the manpower to arrest Keegan, but they don’t have the manpower to protect us from sex offenders.”

Situated between the high-priced Hamptons and the densely populated, upper-middle-class precincts of Nassau County, this area over the past decade has become a magnet for sex offenders upon their release from prison.

Of some 24,000 registered sex offenders in the state, 825 live in Suffolk County, nearly twice the 452 in neighboring Nassau, whose population is only slightly smaller. Some blame the county’s Department of Social Services for referring offenders to landlords who have bought inexpensive houses in neighborhoods with little political clout.

“D.S.S. has seen this building for a long time in these neighborhoods, and they’ve never done anything to stop it,” said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law, a national group based on Long Island that works to prevent sexual abuse of children.

But given the number of sex offenders in Suffolk, “There is no way they could all be placed in neighborhoods without kids,” said Dennis Nowak, a Social Services spokesman.

Required by state law to help find and finance housing for sex offenders released from prison, the department refers offenders to nonprofit agencies, which connect them with landlords who will accept them — and the $309 monthly rent stipend allocated by the county — in homes that meet state and local regulations.

“This is an issue that communities across the country are facing, and there’s no easy solution,” Mr. Nowak said. “We’ve become a lightning rod for the issue, but it’s much bigger than us.”

The lightning struck in Mastic this summer, when the four men moved into the Eleanor Avenue house, paying $550 each per month. It is next door to a family with seven young children, and across the avenue from a residence for 12 women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.

“With all these kids on this block and 12 vulnerable women in a house, this is where they allow a house full of sex offenders?” said one of the women, Denise Mello, 32, a recovering heroin addict.

Soon, parents on the block began keeping their children indoors. Neighbors picketed in front of the house, and members of the Mastic Park Civic Association went door to door distributing fliers with the offenders’ names, police photos and criminal records.

At one homeowners’ meeting at the local library, a resident, not Mr. Keegan, stood up and said, “I’ll burn the house down,” recalled the civic association president, John Sicignano. In response, he said, “Fifty people stood up and started clapping.”

“He definitely expressed it the wrong way, but who knows, if something threatened my kid, maybe I’d react the same way,” Mr. Sicignano, 49, who runs an aircraft engineering firm, said of Mr. Keegan.

Mr. Manolakos commented ironically: “This guy was doing what the whole neighborhood wanted to do. He’s a local hero.”

Mr. Keegan said that his lawyer had warned him not to talk about the case, and that he was a law-abiding man with no time for mischief.

“I have three jobs,” said Mr. Keegan, who does private landscaping after his maintenance work with the county. “I come home exhausted every night and turn on the Discovery Channel.”

Mr. Keegan denied plotting to burn down the house Sept. 9, when he was arrested with road flares on the front seat of his Ford Mustang. The police, acting on a tip, had sent a detective to befriend Mr. Keegan and caught his threats on tape.

Fred Hollman, 36, who served time for first-degree rape of an 11-year-old girl, moved into 115 Eleanor Avenue in June after living briefly in western Suffolk County, but said in an interview in September that he was looking for a new home because of the furor.

“The last place I was staying, in Brentwood, all the neighbors knew about my status and were friends with me,” he said. “We all hung out together.” But, Mr. Hollman added, he has four children and “wouldn’t want them living around sex offenders either.” Mr. Hollman said he saw Mr. Keegan “in and out of the neighbors’ houses a bunch of times” before his arrest.

Mr. Manolakos, who co-owns a number of homes on Long Island and rents rooms mostly to mentally disabled tenants, says he plans to fight the mid-September order to remove the sex offenders within 45 days. He argued that that the Indian reservation, a 250-resident maze of scruffy suburban streets lined with smoke shops and trailer homes, has no legal bearing on the block, since it operates as its own sovereign territory, outside of many state laws and regulations.

Other landlords defend their right to rent to sex offenders.

“They just want to live their lives,” said Bernadette Parks, whose mother, Mary Dodson, rents to 27 offenders in 11 houses in a small area in Coram and Gordon Heights nicknamed Dodsonville.

On a single block of Homestead Avenue, Mrs. Dodson owns homes filled with 15 offenders, said Mrs. Parks, who manages the properties. The extended Dodson family, with many young children, lives in the surrounding neighborhood.

“They’re being closely watched, and they’re more scared than the other folks here,” said Mrs. Parks, a devout Christian who sees the family’s thriving rental operation as a kind of religious mission, and invites the sex offenders to join her grandchildren in tending rabbits, for therapy.

“My grandchildren all play on this block,” Mrs. Parks said, cradling a bowl of newborn bunnies in her living room. “That’s how much I trust these people. They’ve been deemed to enter back into society and they’ll have to suffer the rest of their lives with being labeled.”

Don’t tell that to Chief Harry Wallace, who runs the Poospatuck Indian Reservation. A Dartmouth-educated lawyer with a ponytail, he keeps two sets of business cards on his desk, one for his law practice, the other for his Poospatuck Smoke Shop and Trading Post.

“What these landlords are doing by renting out to sex offenders,” Chief Wallace said, “are undermining communities trying to better themselves.” ..more.. by COREY KILGANNON


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UPDATE: L.I. Man Admits Arson Plot Against Sex Offenders' Home

3-28-2007 New York:

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- A Long Island man is facing up to nine years in prison after admitting in court that he plotted to burn down the home of four high-risk sex offenders.

Donald Keegan, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson charges Tuesday before Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn.

Keegan admitted telling an undercover detective that he planned to torch the house, which is located less than a mile from his Mastic home. "I want them dead,'' he told the cop, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Keegan, a county maintenance worker, also admitted setting "practice fires'' in his backyard. He said his motivation was to protect his wife and young daughter. He said he went to the house where men convicted of rape, sodomy and other crimes lived, but opted not to set the fire when he saw a police cruiser in the neighborhood.

He apparently became aware of the men living in the house after a civic group staged protests and community meetings. A member of the civic group had learned of the home by checking with a state sex offender registry.

Keegan was arrested last September after detectives secretly recorded Keegan discussing his plan with an undercover officer. When he was taken into custody, detectives recovered from his car a road flare and a squeeze bottle full of accelerant, prosecutors said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 24. ..more.. by 1010 Wins

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Suspected Arsonist Sentenced Today

4-24-2007 New York:

36-year-old Mastic resident Donald Keegan was sentenced this morning in Riverhead for plotting to burn a residence that housed registered sex offenders. Judge Barbara Kahn sentenced Keegan to seven years imprisonment for pleading guilty to attempted arson in the second degree as well as three to nine years in prison for second degree conspiracy. Keegan will also get five years post release supervision on the attempted arson charge.

Keegan was a Suffolk county employee and a part-time landscaper who lived less than a mile from the residence he planned to burn down. An undercover investigation by the district attorney’s office led to Keegan’s arrest in September. Detectives recorded Keegan’s plans to burn the residence on surveillance cameras. Keegan had paint thinner and a road flare in the front seat of his Mustang when detectives arrested him. A pit was found in Keegan’s home where tests were run to see how quick paint thinner burns.

The sex-offender home at 115 Eleanor Avenue had risk-level three sex offenders, which, according to Megan’s Law, are the most likely to repeat their offenses. Residents and community leaders protested the residence, which was near a school. After Keegan’s arrest, state officials ordered the eviction of the residents. Despite her outrage at the location of the residence, Parents for Megan’s Law founder Laura Ahearn did not approve of Keegan’s plans. “It’s completely unacceptable what Keegan did,” she previously told the Long Island Press, adding that he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ..more.. by Mo Ibrahim

Man defends attacks on sex offenders: Crusader gets jail term

12-5-2004 New Hampshire:

CONCORD, N.H. -- Lawrence Trant sees himself as a righteous crusader who put muscle behind his boiling outrage against pedophiles.

The state of New Hampshire sees Trant differently. He is serving a 10- to 30-year sentence in New Hampshire State Prison after pleading guilty to attempting to murder two convicted sex offenders whose names and addresses he found on an Internet registry posted by the state.

"I don't want people to steal the souls of little kids," Trant, 57, said in an interview in prison last week. "I'm doing 30 years for something I think is morally justified."

But prosecutor John Weld says Trant is one of the most cold-blooded criminals he has encountered. If Trant had not been arrested, Weld said, the native of Cambridge, Mass., probably would have killed someone convicted of a sex crime against children.

"He doesn't seem to have any conscience about violence to other people," Weld said. "These people have as much right to justice as anybody else."

The case has become more complicated than a simple question of right and wrong. The sordid histories of Trant's victims, his impassioned testimony on the witness stand, and his use of an Internet list to track down his targets have infused the case with controversy and conflicting senses of justice.

He is not considered the hero he thought he would become in April 2003, when he stabbed one man and lit fires at two buildings where at least seven convicted sex offenders lived. But he was able to persuade a Superior Court jury not to convict him of attempted murder in his trial on the stabbing charge, even after he took the witness stand and admitted he used a kitchen knife to assault Lawrence Sheridan, who had been convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1999.

On trial in June for the stabbing, in a half-hour, uninterrupted speech from the witness stand, Trant looked directly at the jurors who, he believed, sympathized with him.

Trant recalled that he pointed a finger at the jury and said: "I wasn't about protecting anyone from my family. This was about protecting you!"

Three of the 12 Superior Court jurors refused to convict him of attempted murder. The judge declared a mistrial on that charge; the same panel of jurors eventually agreed that Trant had committed first-degree assault.

Prosecutors realized they would face a problem trying to convict Trant of attempted murder in the other cases: He had targeted a class of victims for whom a jury of his peers had no sympathy.

"Experienced prosecutors learn that verdicts are based almost as much on emotion as they are on fact," Weld said.

In a change of strategy, prosecutors offered Trant a plea bargain on the seven remaining charges of attempted murder. Trant, who said he was weary of the court process, agreed to plead guilty to two of the charges.

"I think I'm a good guy; I don't think I should receive this kind of punishment," Trant said Tuesday in his first interview since his arrest on the night he stabbed Sheridan. "I thought that people would accept it. But I was wrong."

In Trant's eyes, the penalties for sexually assaulting children are scandalously lenient, and the public is not adequately protected against pedophiles who return to the streets after prison.

"I hope I've done a service to the community," Trant said. "These guys are sexual terrorists."

While Trant's ability to avoid a murder conviction rankled prosecutors, rights advocates were concerned by another aspect of his case: his admission that he had downloaded the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders from a state Internet site.

Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, said the list on the State Police site indelibly stigmatizes offenders and shatters the lives of their families.

Although 43 states post information on sex offenders on the Net, vigilante acts against them are rare, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

However, Trant's crimes were the kind of reaction that convicted sex offenders in Massachusetts feared when they asked the state's Supreme Judicial Court to ban a sex-offender registry the Commonwealth posted on the Internet. The Massachusetts high court swept aside those concerns and found that the information on the website could benefit the public. The Massachusetts site began operation Aug. 4.

Prosecutor Weld defended New Hampshire's decision two years ago to post the names and addresses of state residents convicted of crimes against children. The warnings the site provides children and their families, he said, far outweighs the potential for vigilante crimes.

Weld's stance is shared by state Representative William Knowles, a Dover Democrat who cosponsored the bill that established the Internet registry. Previously, New Hampshire residents needed to visit local police stations to discover where pedophiles live.

"Probably about 80 percent of people have access to a computer, so they can find this information a lot easier," Knowles said. "They can find out who these sex offenders are, alert their children, and keep them aware that they are in danger."

However, the registry has encountered some problems, including the posting of addresses where convicted offenders no longer live. Now, authorities are ordered to regularly check addresses, which convicted offenders are required to keep up to date.

The registry lists 93 names for Concord, including 10 people who live at a building on North Main Street. There, in April 2003, Trant lit newspapers outside the apartment door of one of the convicted sex offenders. Located directly across from the state Capitol, the building also houses the headquarters of the state Republican Party, as well as an adjacent shop for lingerie and sex toys.

Trant also lit a fire at a boarding house on nearby Spring Street, where six other convicted sex offenders lived. He said he was not trying to kill anyone, but to generate publicity about the tenants.

"If bin Laden moved into the house next door, wouldn't we tell people about that?" Trant asked.

Trant, who has spent 15 years in Massachusetts and New Hampshire prisons, said he was molested several times as a teenager by a youth worker at a Back Bay church. The memory was tucked away, Trant said, until news surfaced about the clergy sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. At the time, Trant was on parole after serving a sentence for receiving stolen goods.

"I just freaked out when I started reading all that," Trant said. "It tore my soul apart, and I guess I decided to do something about it."

Trant said he saw Sheridan walking to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in his neighborhood on April 25, 2003. Trant returned to his home, grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and kitchen knife, and confronted Sheridan after the meeting.

As a bystander looked on, Trant stabbed Sheridan in the back and then in the arm.

Trant denies he was trying to kill Sheridan. "If I wanted to murder the guy, I would have stabbed him in the heart," Trant said.

"I wanted to tell him . . . 'Stay out of my neighborhood,' " he said. "I started to say something, and then I just snapped."

Trant was arrested that night. Later police discovered in Trant's apartment a manifesto he had written, which appealed for the help of like-minded people "genuinely committed, willing to sacrifice ourselves if necessary, to bring about the results that can [ensure] that our children will be protected." Police also found a downloaded list of sex offenders with check marks next to the names of residents whose apartments had been hit recently by fire.

Trant was charged with eight attempted murders.

"I had this fantasy that I'd be getting lots of letters from people," Trant said. "Doesn't anybody realize why I did this? I could have lived the rest of my life, become an old man, and lived happily ever after. But here I am, in . . . prison.

When he wrote his manifesto, Trant said, he had hoped to set up a "Protect Our Children Foundation." "I wish I had found another way to do it," he said.

That's one sentiment that Trant and the prosecutor share.

"It's scary when you have someone who has no conscience about inflicting violence on other human beings," Weld said. "He wanted the limelight. He wanted the soapbox of the first trial." ...more... by Brian MacQuarrie

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Officials: Fires were attempts to kill sex offenders
11-24-2003 New Hampshire:

A man who the police say targeted sex offenders has been indicted on seven counts of attempted murder. The indictments, which were handed down by a Merrimack County grand jury Friday, accuse Lawrence E. Trant Jr. of trying to kill seven sex offenders by setting fires. Six of the men live in the same house on North Spring Street.

Trant, 56, has been at the state prison since May, when the police say he stabbed a sex offender who was living at the prison's halfway house. He has been charged with first-degree assault and attempted murder in connection to that incident. At the time of the stabbing, Trant was on parole for receiving stolen property.

Andrew Winters, Trant's public defender, said that Trant planned to plead not guilty to the new charges, as he had to the earlier ones. Winters declined to comment on the specifics of the case, saying he had not seen all the evidence. The grand jury also indicted Trant on a single charge of arson in connection to the North Spring Street fire.

Peter Bruce, one of men whom Trant is accused of targeting, said he had never met Trant and didn't know his name until he learned that the attorney general's office planned to present the case to a grand jury.

According to the indictment, investigators believe Trant set fire to paper outside the door of Bruce's North Main Street apartment on April 20. Bruce wasn't home because he had gone to his parent's house for Easter. Bruce returned the next day to find soot and boot marks and his door jimmied open by firefighters.

The indictments accuse Trant of trying to set another fire on April 12 at a North Spring Street boarding house. He is accused of pouring gasoline on the front and side entrances of the house in an attempt to kill six sex offenders who were living there.

The fire started just before 4 a.m. Donald Stearns, who owns the building and is not a sex offender, woke up to find his rooms filled with smoke. He opened a door from his office to the front entry, and water from the sprinkler system poured in. He called the fire department, where a dispatcher said that fire trucks were on their way and told him to get out of the house, he said.

At the time of the fire, fire officials said the sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading and probably prevented anyone from dying. The fire destroyed the front entryway but did not enter the house. Thirteen people were home at the time.

The fact that some of the men weren't home at the time and neither fire came close to killing anyone doesn't matter, according to Jim Rosenberg, the assistant attorney general prosecuting the case.

"If he had succeeded, we would have charged him with murder," Rosenberg said. "His purpose was to kill these people, as we've alleged."

Stearns, who opened the boarding house 20 years ago, said that before April he had never had problems with his tenants or people targeting them. Stearns said he has a large number of sex offenders living in his house because he never asks his tenants about why they were in prison. He doesn't care, as long as they pay their rent and obey house rules forbidding gambling, beer and visitors after 10 p.m.

Trant came to the attention of the police five days after the North Main Street fire, when a sex offender was stabbed on North Main Street. During the investigation into the stabbing, Trant's landlords told an officer that Trant hated child molesters and "was constantly making statements about how all child molesters should be killed," according to a police affidavit filed in Merrimack County Superior Court.

In the living room of the Hutchins Street house where Trant lived, officers found a copy of the state's sex-offender registry with checkmarks made in red ink next to the names of several people who lived at the North Spring Street boarding house. Bruce's name was also marked, according to the affidavit. Trant's landlord thought the checkmarks were a hit list of sorts.

Two of the men whom the indictments accuse Trant of targeting no longer live at the North Spring Street house. The other four were not home yesterday afternoon.

Bruce, who served time for possessing child pornography and molesting a child, expects that Trant will be heralded inside the prison.

"When he gets into prison, he's going to be real popular," Bruce said. "A lot of people there don't like people like me. . . . We're paying for what we did after we're getting on parole." ..more.. by

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Man Allegedly Targeting, Trying To Kill Sex Offenders

Police Find Sex Offender List In Man's Apartment

9-4-2003 New Hampshire:

CONCORD, N.H. -- A New Hampshire parolee allegedly stabbed a convicted sex offender and police now wonder if he had plans to hurt other offenders.

Newscenter 5's Jack Harper reported that Concord police said when they arrested Lawrence Trant on charges stemming from an April stabbing, they found a list of convicted sex offenders in his room with check marks next to some of the names. The list remains the focus of a continuing investigation.

According to investigators, Trant, a former Massachusetts resident, believes all sex offenders should be killed and they are investigating whether Trant may have tried to hurt or kill sex offenders in the past.

"The night he stabbed the guy (in April), he came home and said he was going to work for the police department. He thought, in his mind, that he was helping to get rid of the pedophiles," said Trant's former landlord, Donald Chase. "We thought he was a nice guy except for that. We didn't know his history. We didn't know his background."

Trant is being held at Concord State Prison for allegedly attacking a man who was on the state's sex offender registry list.

"Lawrence Trant currently stands charged with attempted murder and alternative first-degree assault for a stabbing incident that occurred in Concord in late April on North Main Street here in town. The victim is an individual who is listed on the New Hampshire sex offender registry list," said New Hampshire Assistant General Jim Rosenberg.

Inside Trant's apartment, police found a copy of the state's sex offender list with several names with red check marks beside them. A police affidavit reveals three registered sex offenders had been living at 32 North Spring St., in Concord, the same address where there had recently been a suspicious fire -- a fire that police now believe Trant may have set.

"It was pretty scary. The whole room was filled with smoke. There was a lot of damage, we had to leave for two weeks afterwards for the damage to be repaired," said fire victim Cynthia Griffith.

In the 1980s, Trant was tried and acquitted of the Malden, Mass., murder of Bertha Smith, 82. ..more.. by WCVB TV

Most Serious Vigilantism Cases: Murder, Attempted Murder, Brutalization, Arson, often locating target using Registry or Community Notification Information

Any Date, Any State:

DATE of LAST ADDITION to LIST: 1-27-2012

These are the more serious cases and some where the registry or community notification information was used, by the perpetrator, to commit his/her deeds and harm the person who is the object of the story. While I am sure there are other cases, in these there is no doubt they are the most serious short of out-right murders; the rest of this blog documents them. This list will be update as we find more, so stop back for the then current version. In addition, there are hundreds of cases of vigilantism in the Vigilantism Blog.

By Year:

2011 MA: Molotov Cocktail Thrown Into Occupied Home where a Registered Sex Offender Lives

2011 CA: Authorities say woman stabbed Diamond Bar man to death before dismembering him

2010 VA: Hopewell teen charged with harassing registered sex offender

2010 CA: California man accused of tracking down alleged molester priest, beating him at retirement home

2010 OH: Guard charged with permitting 'jailhouse justice' assault on sex offender

2010 CA: Robbery suspect admits to assaulting sex offenders in Grover Beach

2009 FL: Trailer where Jessica Lunsford died is torched

2008 WI: Probation ordered in beating of Appleton man

2008 NY: After two fires in three days, homeowner says he's "a target"

2008 IN: 'Get out perv' left at fire site

2008 MO: Man pleads guilty to molesting 4 neighbor children

2008 FL: Man's sex offender info posted by neighbor

2008 IL: Accused Officer's House Burns Down

2008 VA: Vinton house fire ruled arson

2007 MI: Prosecutor: 'Thrill kill' led teens to murder, decapitate man

2007 TN: Reaction to "vigilante justice" arrests in suspicious fire death (Woman dies in fire)

2007 WI: Man accused of beating up sex offender

2007 OK: Home Destroyed In Suspicious Fire

2007 TX: House Fire Victim is Registered Sex Offender

2006 NY: Fire at sex offender's home believed to be arson

2006 CA: On his block, a molester

2006 NC: Flames engulf south Charlotte home

2006 MA: Appleton St. fire may have been set

2006 OK: Suspects charged in revenge arson

2006 CA: Convicted molester’s house torched

2005 UT WY: Dismembered Body Near Utah-Wyoming Line Was Sex Offender

2005 NE: Gas line was cut, fed into home

2005 CA: Man Falsely Accused Of Being Sex Offender Leaves Job

2005 VT: Sex offender evicted from Hoosick home

2005 IA: Cedar Rapids teacher suspended after name posted on sex offender registry

2005 IL: Arsonist torches sex offender's house

2004 CO: Sex Offender's Home Set Afire

2004 CA: East Bay Family Mistakenly Appears On Sex Offender List

2004 NH Multiple Acts: Man defends attacks on sex offenders: Crusader gets jail term

2004 WI: Stolen car torched at Brook field house: Two bottles of flammable liquid tossed at home..

2004 WI: Registered sex offender may be victim of arson

2004 MO: Seymour residents charged in connection to fire in sex offender's home

2003 MI OH KY NM Worst Case Ever: Convicted sexual predator finds no post-prison solace: Self-professed 'monster' has been ostracized, bullied

2003 VT: Onorato's Wife's Car Burned In Driveway

2000 FL: Convicted sex offender beaten by neighbors

1999 CA: BRANDED

1999 TX: List on Internet Leads to a Mistaken Beating - Thinh Pham wrongfully beaten as a suspected sex offender in Texas

1997 CA: Hell to Pay

1995 NJ: 'Vigilante' Attack in New Jersey Is Linked to Sex-Offenders Law

1995 NJ: 'Megan's Law' Prompts Lawsuit

1993 WA: Driven Out, Sex Offender Returns to Town

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No Bond For CA Man Steven Banister In Murder Of Sex Offender

1-10-2010 California:

A judge Monday denied bail for a self-avowed white supremacist accused of using California's Megan's Law registry to track down and kill a convicted sex offender at his North Palm Springs home last summer.

Steven Banister, 28, of Desert Hot Springs is charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 10 death of Edward Vaughn Keeley, whose body was found in his back yard in the 64-000 block of 16th Avenue.

Banister also faces two special circumstance allegations of committing a murder during a robbery and a burglary, which would make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors will decide later in the case whether to seek capital punishment for Banister.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Arjuna T. Saraydarian denied bail, citing the special circumstance allegations, and ordered Banister to return to court Feb. 18 for a felony settlement conference.

Travis Martin Cody, 27, is also charged in Keeley's death. A Feb. 10 arraignment is set for Cody, who is in state prison on an unrelated offense and is expected to be brought to Riverside County in the next few weeks, according to district attorney's spokesman Michael Jeandron.

Banister was released from prison less than a month before Keeley's death, according to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant.

Keeley's address was listed as the home of a convicted sex offender on a publicly accessible database created as a result of Megan's Law.

Banister reportedly bragged in prison that he planned on assaulting homosexuals, pedophiles and rapists. He is accused of using Megan's Law to target pedophiles and sex offenders for his burglaries, said sheriff's Investigator Josh Button, who prepared the declaration.

Banister told his girlfriend that he had gotten into a fight with an old man, but did not know if the victim was dead or not, according to Button.

After Keeley's death, Banister went to Tennessee, where he was arrested in December.

Cody reputedly told his mother and girlfriend in recorded jail conversations that he was at Keeley's home during the murder, Button wrote. ..Source..

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Suspect pleads not guilty in death of North Palm Springs sex offender

A reputed drug dealer accused, along with another man, in the death of a convicted sex offender in North Palm Springs pleaded not guilty today to a murder charge.

Travis Martin Cody, 27, faces one count of first-degree murder and two special circumstance allegations -- committing a murder during a robbery and a burglary -- in the Aug. 10 death of Edward Vaughn Keeley, whose body was found in his back yard in the 64000 block of 16th Avenue.

Cody was in state prison on an unrelated offense and was transported on Feb. 5 to the Indio Jail for prosecution.

Also accused in Keeley's death is self-avowed white supremacist Steven Banister, 28, who is accused of using California's Megan's Law registry to track down Keeley.

Banister also faces the same special circumstance allegations, which make both men eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors will decide later in the case whether to seek capital punishment for the defendants.

Both men are due in court on Feb. 18 for a felony settlement conference.

Banister was released from prison less than a month before Keeley's death, according to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant.

Keeley's address was listed as the home of a convicted sex offender on a publicly accessible database created as a result of Megan's Law, said sheriff's Investigator Josh Button, who prepared the declaration.

Banister reportedly bragged in prison that he planned on assaulting homosexuals, rapists and pedophiles, according to Button. He is accused of using
Megan's Law to target pedophiles and sex offenders for his burglaries.

Banister told his girlfriend that he had gotten into a fight with an old man, but did not know if the victim was dead or not, according to Button.

After Keeley's death, Banister went to Tennessee, where he was arrested in December.

Cody, who is being held without bail, told his mother and girlfriend in recorded jail conversations that he was at Keeley's home during the murder, Button wrote. ..Source..

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Trial date set in murder case

1-7-2012 California:

A Jan. 20 trial date was set Friday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio for two men, one of them a white supremacist, accused in the killing of a sex offender in North Palm Springs.

Travis Martin Cody, 29, and Steven Arthur Banister, 30, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstance allegations of killing during a burglary and robbery in the Aug. 10, 2009, death of 75-year-old Edward Vaughn Keeley. ..Source..

A vigilantes' charter? The bitter legacy of Megan's Law

6-24-2006 Maine:

In the ten years since American states were forced to publish the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, there have been a series of vigilante attacks. As John Reid considers a similar approach in Britain, Andrew Buncombe reports on a law which has had unforeseen consequences

The mother of William Elliott insists her son was 19 and his girlfriend just two weeks shy of her 16th birthday when the couple had sex - behaviour about which people may have differing opinions, but which in the state of Maine was enough to earn him a conviction for statutory rape.

The information about the couple's ages was not available when a vigilante, Stephen Marshall, went online to search for registered sex offenders to kill. Instead, he simply read that in 2002 Elliott pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual abuse of a minor and had served four months in jail. Marshall was also able to access his complete address.

In the early hours of 16 April this year, armed with that information and two handguns, Marshall drove to Elliott's home in the small town of Corinth and shot him dead. The same night, he visited the house of 57-year-old Joseph Gray - also registered on the sex offenders list - and killed him as his petrified wife stood helplessly by.

"My son was not a paedophile," Elliott's mother, Shirley Turner, said. "He shouldn't have been labelled like that. All he wanted to do was to love that girl and make a family. [Without the registry] he'd still be alive today. I'd still have him."

The Home Secretary, John Reid, is currently considering new legislation in Britain to make information about registered sex offenders available to the public - introducing a version of what is known in America as Megan's Law. Meanwhile, here in the US - where the Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe is due to see Megan's Law in operation - a contentious debate is continuing about the wisdom and the effectiveness of making such potentially explosive information publicly available.

US public law 104-145 - the legislation commonly known as Megan's Law - was passed by the federal government in 1996 and required law enforcement authorities in each state to make information available detailing the names, addresses and identities of registered sex offenders. Each of the states operates the process differently, deciding for themselves what amount of information to provide to the public and how best to make the information available. Some states, for instance, only make available information about the most dangerous offenders, while in Maine everyone convicted of a sexual offence is listed.

Some states even have their own additions to Megan's Law. In Wisconsin, for instance, there is Amie's Law, named after a young woman, Amie Zyla, who was eight years old when she was attacked by a repeat sex offender. The original Megan's Law - which persuaded the federal government to introduce state-wide legislation - was introduced in New Jersey after the rape and murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. Her parents, Maureen and Richard, still live in the same street in Hamilton Township from which their daughter was lured into the house of a registered paedophile, Jesse Timmendequas. Her body was discovered the following day in a nearby park.

Inspired by the impassioned campaign by Mrs Kanka, who two days after her daughter's death vowed that no other little girl should be killed by a sex offender, the legislation was designed to empower parents by giving them information about such convicted people. This information, it was argued, would allow parents to take better precautions to keep their children safe, despite studies that show the overwhelming majority of offenders are not strangers.

But in the past few years, the debate about whether or not to make such information available has taken on a new intensity after the murder and attempted murder of registered sex offenders by vigilantes who obtained their names, addresses and conviction details simply by clicking on the internet.

In addition to the two April killings in Maine by Marshall, 20 - who turned his .45 calibre Magnum on himself when police cornered him near Boston - two sex offenders were killed last year in Bellingham, Washington state, by a vigilante posing as an FBI agent. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a man is in jail for the attempted murder of two other registered sex offenders in 2003.

Critics say that while Megan's Law may be well intentioned, there is a real danger of making the information about offenders too easily available to all.

"This is the only law I have seen that causes more violence than in prevents," said Jack King, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers. "There are a lot of versions. Some make sense and will only provide the block number of a dangerous, repeat offender. But some states don't differentiate if someone was caught urinating behind a pub and was convicted of indecent exposure."

Mr King said the system in operation in Massachusetts has four tiers, with information made available only about more serious sex offenders. He said that Mrs Turner's son may have been convicted of a sexual offence, but not a sexually violent offence. "Did that man belong on a sexual predator list? I would hope that [the British parliament] will consider some of the mistakes that the states have made," he said.

Charles Onley, a research associate with the Centre for Sexual Offender Management, a non-profit group, said the four murders were the only fatal crimes he knew of that had been carried out during the approximately seven years in which most states have made their offender registries publicly available. "In the last couple of years more information has been available on the internet," he said.

But there is widespread evidence that other registered sex offenders have suffered violence and - much more commonly - harassment and abuse. A study carried out in Florida and published last year in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice found that a third of convicted male sex offenders sampled had experienced "dire events". The study found that only 5 per cent had suffered assaults or injuries, but that the 33 per cent who said they had suffered negatively had typically undergone the "loss of a job or a home, threats of harassment or property damage". It added: "Some participants noted positive effects of Megan's Law, including motivation to prevent reoffence and increased honesty with friends and family."

Janice, the wife of Joseph Gray, says that her husband had always been honest with her. When they married a decade or so ago, she knew about his 1992 conviction for the indecent assault, battery and rape of a child. She declined to speak about the specifics of his offence, but said "it was not what it sounds".

Speaking yesterday from her home near Bangor, Maine, she told The Independent how she had seen Marshall shoot her husband. "I saw Mr Marshall standing at my window at 3am. I saw him execute my husband," she said, detailing how her husband had died in her arms after he was hit by two bullets.

After the killings, it emerged that Marshall had travelled to Maine from his home in Nova Scotia, Canada, with the names and addresses of 29 sex offenders obtained from the internet that he had saved on his laptop. The night he killed Gray and Elliott he had driven to the homes of four other registered sex offenders living in north-east Maine.

Mrs Gray does not argue that her husband should not have been registered, though she says it was wrong that such information is so easily available. She suggests such information should be held by police, who could then perform checks on people who request details of convicted offenders.

"The politicians think it's fine to put it on the internet. [But] this is going to keep happening," she said. "My husband was a good man. Everyone who knew him said that. He had one bad incident."

Defenders of Megan's Law say that while making information about sex offenders available carries risks, providing such details can often be the only way parents can protect their children.

No one has been more active in pushing for this information to be available than Maureen Kanka. Unknown to the Kankas, three convicted paedophiles were living together in a property just yards from their home. Among them was Timmendequas, who had twice been convicted of child molestation.

On the evening of 29 July 1994, it was Timmendequas - working on his boat parked in his driveway - who lured Megan into his house as she passed by on her bicycle. He told her he had a puppy that he wanted her to see.

Instead, Timmendequas sexually assaulted the little girl, strangled her to death, abused her again and then dumped her body in a nearby park. The following day, questioned by police as to Megan's whereabouts, Timmendequas was asked if Megan might still be alive. "No, she's dead," he replied. "I put a plastic bag over her head." Mrs Kanka and her husband have worked tirelessly to prevent other families suffering as they did. Their organisation, the Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation, campaigns to prevent crimes against children.

"You can't have any more need than a need for something like that. It should have never happened," she subsequently told the New Jersey Express-Times. "My daughter was across the street. That's where she was killed - right across the street. I thought it was safe for my kids to play in the neighbourhood and it wasn't." She added: "The police department never knew three paedophiles were in the neighbourhood. There was nothing in the law to tell them. Now there is."

Another woman who would agree with Mrs Kanka is Amie Zyla. Now aged 18 and having recently graduated from high school, the teenager was eight years old when she was assaulted by a neighbour, Joshua Wade, six years her elder. The boy was convicted of a minor offence and then sent to a treatment centre until the age of 18.

It was in January 2005 that Ms Zyla was watching the local television news that she learned that someone had been arrested for molesting teenagers. It transpired that Wade, then 23, was working at a summer camp but although the camp had done a background check, there was nothing on his record about his juvenile convictions because it had been wiped clean when he turned 18.

Helped by her father and local politicians, Ms Zyla ensured the passage of Amie's Law, which allows police to make public the records of juvenile sex offenders if they are deemed a danger.

Speaking yesterday from Waukesha, Wisconsin, Ms Zyla explained what drove her to act. "I did not think it was fair - he did this to me and then he did this to all these other people," she said. "I was really mad. I was really mad." ..Source.. by The Independent

Prison death of sex offenders' killer is investigated as a suicide

4-24-2007 Washington:

In a letter sent to The Seattle Times a few months before his death, convicted sex-offender killer Michael Mullen wrote that during his arrest and trial, "facts are, I just wanted to die."

Mullen was serving a 44-year prison term after being convicted of killing two Bellingham sex offenders in what was considered one of the nation's worst cases of vigilantism against sex offenders.

Mullen was found unresponsive in his cell at Stafford Creek Corrections Center near Aberdeen on April 15, and declared dead at Grays Harbor Community Hospital.

The state Department of Corrections says it's still investigating his death.

Prison spokeswoman Sheri Izatt says Mullen was alone in his cell. His death is being investigated as a possible suicide.

"I've been moved from prison to prison since my incarceration," Mullen wrote in his January letter to the Times. "I can not ajust (sic)."

Mullen was sentenced last year for the shooting deaths. He found his victims on Whatcom County's online sex-offender list, posed as an FBI agent in August 2005 to enter the home, and killed Victor Vazquez, 68, and Hank Eisses, 49. He said he let a third resident go because he showed remorse. Mullen had a history of petty crime in Washington and California.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Girl hacks ‘rapist’ father to death

1-23-2012 India:

A 21-year-old girl from Palitana in Bhavnagar district was arrested on Monday for hacking to death her father who allegedly raped her several times ever since her mother died a year ago.

Eldest of three siblings, Kailash Koli has reportedly confessed to the crime during preliminary interrogation by Palitana police, which have also seized the axe she allegedly used to kill her father at their house near the bus station.

The girl has been booked under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

Preliminary investigation revealed the deceased had been sexually abusing Kailash after he lost his wife a year ago.

Kailash reportedly told the police that in the past 12 months, she was raped several times by her father, Haka, at their home. Police said she was also worried about her two younger sisters, one of them a teenage.

“She said she killed her father in a fit of anger when he again demanded sexual favours on Saturday night,” police said, adding she killed her father when he was fast asleep. She hit him on his head with the axe and he died on the spot, the police said. ..Source.. by Express news service : Rajkot

One of two death-row 'suicides' may not be a suicide, official says

1-8-2010 Georgia:

Georgia's top Department of Corrections official has now acknowledged that one of two recent "suicides" on Georgia's death row may not have been a suicide.

And while Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens told his board Thursday the GBI is investigating the death, a GBI spokesman on Friday said that was not the case.

During the agency's board meeting, Owens was asked about the inmates' deaths. "One of them may not be a suicide," Owens told the board, according to a transcript of the meeting.

On Dec. 6, condemned killer Timothy Pruitt died at Augusta State Medical Prison after sustaining injuries on Nov. 19. On New Year's Day, guards found death-row inmate Leeland Mark Braley hanging in his cell. Both were housed on death row at the state Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

A number of family members of death-row inmates have said Pruitt's death was not a suicide and that he was likely killed by another death row inmate, Sara Totonchi, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said Friday.

At Thursday's meeting, board member Roger Garrison asked Owens if the GBI is investigating Pruitt's death. . "Yes, sir," Owens replied.

But on Friday, GBI spokesman John Bankhead said Corrections investigators only consulted with a GBI investigator about Pruitt's death. "As far as the GBI being actively involved in investigating either of these cases, we're not involved because we weren't asked," Bankhead said.

Corrections officials initially called Pruitt's death an "alleged suicide." Pruitt, 43, was sentenced to death for the 1992 rape and murder of Wendy Vincent, a 10-year-old Lumpkin County girl. Braley, 35, was sentenced to death in 1999 for the kidnapping and stabbing death of Kelli Hammond, an insurance agent from Zebulon.

Totonchi has said that death-row inmates may be preparing to wage a hunger strike because of recent get-tough measures imposed by Corrections officials. The prison recently eliminated all contact visits between inmates and their families and restricted prisoners to their cells all but one hour each day. ..Source.. Bill Rankin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Was death row inmate murdered?

1-31-2010 Georgia:

Inquest to be held for Pruitt, whose Dec. 6 death was first reported as suicide

A coroner’s inquest will be held in the strangulation death of a Lumpkin County man on Georgia’s death row that some believe was a murder.

The Dec. 6 death of Timothy Pruitt was first reported as the result of an apparent suicide.

Pruitt, 43, spent 12 years at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison awaiting execution for the 1992 rape and murder of 10-year-old Wendy Nicole Vincent of Dahlonega. He died 17 days after he was found hanging by a bed sheet in his cell at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Butts County Coroner Ralph Wilson said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death of Pruitt and another death row inmate, Leeland Mark Braley, who was found hanging in his cell Jan. 1.

Wilson said witnesses will be supoenaed and juries seated to hear evidence about both deaths in separate inquests. He said he is waiting for the GBI and the Georgia Department of Corrections to wrap up their probes before scheduling the inquests.

Braley’s death is generally accepted as a suicide, but many within Georgia’s prisoner advocacy community believe Pruitt was murdered by another inmate, said Sara Totonchi, Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and a member of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

“He was in the process of writing a letter to his fiance at the time of his death,” Totonchi said.

The Georgia Department of Corrections did not return several phone and e-mail messages seeking comment last week.

Kari Ohland, who said she visited Pruitt every weekend and was his fiance, said she spoke with Pruitt the day he was found hanged.

She said the letter that Pruitt was writing to her that day was later found and sent to her.

“There was no indication he was suicidal,” she said. “Not at all. He was saying how excited he was to see me that weekend. There’s no way he choked himself.”

Ohland said she was later told by another death row inmate, Michael Nance, that convicted quadruple killer Jerry William Jones was seen going into Pruitt’s cell shortly before he was found. Inmates’ cell doors were open and guards stayed inside observation booths during certain times of the day, she said.

Since the two deaths, death row has been on 23-hour a day lockdown, with no contact visits for inmates, Totonchi said.

Ohland said she refuses to believe Pruitt’s death was a suicide.

“There’s no way he would have done that to me,” she said. ..Source.. by Stephen Gurr

'Far more lethal' — About 1,500 kids die at the hands of a caregiver each year

8-18-2010 National:

Depression. Psychosis. Stress. Feelings of being overwhelmed.

These are just some of the factors that drive women to kill their children.

Such crimes evoke horror and clash with traditional notions of women as natural, nurturing caregivers. But these killings are neither a new nor a rare phenomenon, experts said.

More than 200 women kill their children in the United States each year, according to the American Anthropological Association.

"For all the anxieties we have about stranger abductions, for young children, parents are far more lethal," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

Authorities said Shaquan Duley of Orangeburg suffocated her two toddlers and left their bodies inside a car in the Edisto River. Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said Tuesday the responsibility of being a mother "was a bit much for her."

The case immediately drew comparisons to that of Susan Smith of Union, who is serving a life sentence for drowning her two sons in 1994. But a host of similar cases can be found. Take Andrea Yates of Texas, who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001. Or consider Ellen Feinberg, who stabbed her two sons, one fatally, in Illinois in 2002.

Harold Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at the University of South Carolina, has examined a half-dozen women who killed their children and thinks most fall into four broad and, at times, overlapping categories.

Some are psychotic or out of touch with reality, such as a Lowcountry woman who threw her baby in a river in the 1980s because she thought the infant was possessed by the devil or a demon, Morgan said.

Others are narcissistic, self-centered and feel entitled to do whatever they want, he said.

A third group includes women who are depressed and want to spare their children the suffering they endured in life, Morgan said.

Another group includes needy, insecure mothers who feel overwhelmed by their circumstances. "The only way they can see to fix their problems is to get rid of their children," he said.

Libby Ralston, executive director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, said she seldom sees cases where children are killed simply out of malice.

"I think parents sometimes just get stressed to the point where they feel totally trapped and inadequate in being able to meet their kids' needs and they don't see any other options," she said.

About 1,500 children die on average each year at the hands of a parent or caregiver, with rage or out-of-control discipline often a factor, Finkelhor said.

In South Carolina alone, 231 children have been slain by their parents since 1993, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Fathers have been charged with their share of killings as well. Just last month, a Summerville man was charged with allowing his 2-year-old son to die from unspecified injuries and then hiding the body in cement.

Experts said there are a variety of places parents can turn to for help if they find themselves overwhelmed or unable to care for their children. The state's so-called Daniel's Law allows an infant less than 30 days old to be left at a hospital, police station, fire station, outpatient medical facility or any place of worship, as long as the child is left in an employee's hands. Parents also can seek help and advice through hot lines, churches and social service agencies.

Ralston urged people who suspect child abuse, neglect or the potential for harm to contact authorities immediately. "It may save the life of a child." ..Source.. Glenn Smith, The Post and Courier