Citizen locates offenders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Surprising number of predators live close to schools



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A &8220;concerned citizen&8221; has taken it upon herself and identified 14 convicted sex offenders in Selma who are in violation of the law by living within a 2,000-foot restricted zone of a school or day care.

Maggie Davies gathered her information, then took it to Selma City Hall where she delivered her findings to Mayor James Perkins Jr. She said the reason for conducting the research was the startling distances convicted child molesters live from public schools and day care centers.

Federal law requires sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement office upon release from prison or conviction, and requires they keep their distance from children. Perkins said he thanked Davies for getting involved and relayed her message.

Taking into account the geographic locations of city schools, there are few places for convicted sex offenders to live within the city limits. According to Davies, who said she researched the child predators on the Internet. The distance the city schools are apart makes living within the city prohibitive.

&8220;I started my campaign about this over two years ago, and it fell on deaf ears until last week,&8221; Davies said.

Last week, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department apprehended a convicted sex offender, Joe Earl &8220;Puddin&8221; Edwards, 52, as he attempted to abduct a 10-year-old from her bus stop on County Road 63 while waiting to go to school. He remained jailed Tuesday on $500,000 bond.

Authorities were working on an earlier attempted abduction of a 9-year-old boy who was reportedly saved by a concerned mother who witnessed the man get out of his white pickup truck and try to coerce the boy inside on Montague Street. The boy had walked to his grandmother’s house from school, and said he was on the way to a friend’s house.

Family members had been critical of the Selma Police Department’s response time, but police officials said they had patrol cars in the area within two minutes and were searching for the reported truck. No arrests were made. Authorities said Tuesday that they did not know if there is a link between Edwards and the attempted abduction of the boy.

Davies research indicates there are three convicted, registered sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of Knox Elementary School at 1002 Mabry St. Two live within the restricted zone around Byrd Elementary School at 625 Lapsley St., according to her research.

Three live within the restricted zone around Selma Middle C.H.A.T. Academy, Davies reported. Clark Elementary School has one convicted sex offender living within 400 feet, but his conviction is for rape second degree and does not involve a child.

Edgewood Elementary at 709 Highland Ave., however, has a convicted child predator living 1,584 feet from the school. According to Davies’ research the man was convicted of enticing a child for immoral purposes. Cedar Park Elementary at 1101 Woodrow Ave., has one sex offender, convicted of rape second degree, living within the restricted zone.

Central Christian Academy, 1 Bell Rd., has a convicted rapist living within 390 feet of the school in the neighboring Felix Heights Apartments. The School of Discovery also has one convicted rapist living within its prohibited area, Davies reported.

McRae-Gaines Learning Center at 2601 Marie Foster St., has five convicted sex offenders living within 1,710 feet of the child care center, and one was convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child, Davies reported.

Deloise’s Day Care Center, 1909 Lauderdale St., has three convicted sex offenders living within 1,885 feet of the day care, Davies reported. Head Start at 414 Martin Luther King St., has three, and the St. Edmund Learning Center, 1002 Minter Ave., has two living within the restricted area, according to Davies.

Payne Elementary, 1529 Franklin St., has four convicted sex offenders living within 1,900 feet of the school, including one man convicted of enticing a child for immoral purposes and one convicted of sexual abuse involving a 14-year-old boy.

Shannon Lynch, assistant district attorney, has worked to bring attention to the numbers of unregistered sex offenders &045; estimated at more than 200 &045; living in Dallas County.

&8220;I think it’s great. It is commendable what she is doing,&8221; Lynch said. &8220;The district attorney’s office will always welcome any call or tips on sex offenders, and we’ll run it down. Since Michael Jackson has come into office, I don’t know how many sex offenders I’ve found. It’s almost a full-time job. I welcome all the help from the community I can get.&8221;