10/29/06 — 143 are registered as sex offenders in Wayne County

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143 are registered as sex offenders in Wayne County

By Lee Williams
Published in News on October 29, 2006 2:01 AM

Do you know who your neighbors are?

More than 143 sex offenders call Wayne their county of residence.

Sgt. John Denny of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office Support Services Division is charged with registering sex offenders in the county. Denny said it's not easy keeping up with the group because sex offenders tend to move from house-to-house quite often.

"I get them fingerprinted, photographed and entered into the system," Denny said.

Sex offenders are expected to register within 10 days after they are released from prison, or immediately upon conviction for a reportable sex offense when imprisonment is not imposed, with the sheriff in the county where they live, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.

Reportable offenses include those involving minors including kidnapping, abduction and felonious restraint. Other reportable offenses include rape, attempted rape, sexual offenses with certain victims or incest, according to the SBI.

A letter from the SBI's Division of Criminal Information is mailed out to the sex offender's home once they register.

"If a letter comes back undeliverable, I send that to the investigator, and they go look for them," Denny said.

Most sex offenders have to register with their county of residence for 10 years. Sex offenders also have to register on the anniversary of their initial registration date.

"Some have to register for 10 years, some have to register every 90 days, and some have to register for the rest of their life," Denny said.

Sexual predators have to register every 90 days, according to SBI. A sexual predator is a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental illness or personality disorder.

Sex offenders must also provide their address, their school or place of employment during registration.

Most people on the county's sex offender rolls are cooperating with law enforcement. Every time a sex offender moves, they are expected to update their address with the sheriff's department within 10 days, according to SBI.

Of the 143 offenders, 138 are successfully registered; two are deemed sexual predators; two others are deemed aggravated sex offenders; and one is categorized as a non-resident, according to the North Carolina Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry Web site.

An aggravated sex offender is a person who commits a sexual act with the victim through force or threat of violence, according to the SBI.

Among the 143 offenders, there are nine people on the list for whom there is no current record of address. They include:

*Devon Darden, 59, convicted of second-degree rape.

*Richard L. Davis, 43, convicted of indecent liberty with a minor.

*Victor V. Escalante, 34, convicted of indecent liberty with a minor.

*Juan M. Gonzales, 25, also known as Manuel Martinez, convicted of indecent liberty with a minor.

*James A. Gufford, 25, convicted of indecent liberty with a minor.

*Anthony Mickens, 37, convicted of indecent liberty with a minor.

*Ronald Bernee Schackner, 45, convicted of indecent liberty with minor.

*James E. Simms, age listed as 44 and 54, also known as James Earl Sims, convicted of indecent liberty with minor.

*Weylin D. Williams, 35, also known as Wexlin Dion Williams or Weylin Dion Williams, convicted of second-degree rape.

A sex offender faces a felony charge for failure to register and failure to change or verify their address, according to SBI. Sex offenders that have not changed their address are now being sought.

"Most of them, we have order for arrests on," Denny said. "Some have fled the state."

Anyone who has information regarding the missing sex offenders' whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 735-2255. Callers may remain anonymous, and they might be eligible for cash rewards of up to $1,000, if their information leads to a felony arrest.

The state maintains a Web site where residents can check to see where sex offenders live. By visiting www.ncsbi.gov, parents, teachers and youth group leaders can find the information they need to keep their children safe.

While addresses are listed on the Web site, SBI officials say they cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information day-to-day. Residents are encouraged to call the sheriff's department if they believe any of the information listed on the Web site is incorrect.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office also maintains a Web site that tracks sex offenders at www.icrimewatch.net. Denny said the site is updated by Keith Hartzog and Mike Dale.

Denny said parents should visit the Web site regularly.