Subsequent to the establishment of publicly disclosed sex offender registries in or about 2006, there have been dozens of reports of vigilante reprisals, physical attacks, and even murders of individuals on public sex offender registries that occurred solely because the victim was required to register as a sex offender. For example:
- In January 1995, only a few months after their State instituted its public registry, Kenneth Kerkes of Phillipsburg, NJ, and his son, Kenneth Jr., found a neighbor, Michael Groff, on that registry. They broke into the home at Mr. Groff’s address at 3 a.m. intending to beat up Mr. Groff but instead mistakenly beat up another man who was staying there.
- In April 2003, Lawrence Trant downloaded a list of addresses in Concord, MA, from the public registry and proceeded to set fire to each home on the list. Later that month, he was arrested when he confronted one of the men on his list, Lawrence Sheridan, with a baseball bat and a knife and stabbed him.
- In February 2004, police in Bakersfield, CA, distributed a flyer with information from the public registry about Vincent Verdile. About two weeks later, Gabriel Garcia went to the front door of Mr. Verdile’s home and threatened to kill him while kicking in the door until police shot and killed Mr. Garcia to prevent his entry into Mr. Verdile’s home.
- In August 2005, Michael Mullen went to an address in Bellingham, WA, that he found listed on the public registry. He impersonated an FBI agent in order to gain entry to the residence, where he then shot and killed two Registrants, Hank Eisses and Victor Vasquez.
- In April 2006, Stephen Marshall took the addresses of William Elliott and Joseph Gray of Corinth, ME, from the public registry. He first went to Mr. Elliott’s home where he shot and killed him. Then he went to Mr. Gray’s home and did the same to him. He intended to continue killing people on the public registry until he shot and killed himself when approached by police about the murders. Mr. Elliott was on the public registry because, at age 19, he had sexual contact with his girlfriend three weeks before her 16th birthday.
- In September 2006, Donald Keegan was charged with attempted murder for plotting to set fire to the Long Island, NY, residence of four men listed on the public registry.
- In November 2007, Ivan Oliver of Lakeport, CA, misinterpreted information on the public registry about his new neighbor, Michael Dodele, to mean that Mr. Dodele’s offense involved a minor, which it had not. Worried for his four-year-old son’s safety, he went to Mr. Dodele’s home and killed him by stabbing him 65 times.
- In August 2009, Steven Banister chose the Palm Springs, CA, address of Edward Keeley from the public registry. He and Travis Cody went to the 75-year-old man’s home, where they robbed and killed him.
- In June 2012, Patrick Drum shot and killed Gary Blanton, who was a registered sex offender because he had sexual contact with his girlfriend when he was a senior in high school and she was a freshman. He then drove to the home of registrant Jerry Ray in nearby Agnew and fatally shot him as well. Mr. Drum said he killed both men “because they were sex offenders” and that he had planned on killing more of them until he was caught. In a court hearing, Mr. Blanton’s widow reported that people who considered Drum a hero had stalked her home, spat on her family, and thrown things at her car.
- December 2012, in San Juan Capistrano, CA, Robert Vasquez murdered Bobby Ray Rainwater after he learned that Rainwater was a registrant. Both men lived in the same trailer park. Mr. Rainwater was attacked from behind and was stabbed so many times he was practically decapitated.
- In July 22 2013, in Lockhart, SC, Jeremy Moody murdered registrant Charles Parker and his wife, Gretchen Parker, inside their home. Mr. Moody pretended to have car problems outside the home and asked to use the couple’s home phone to call a tow truck. After his arrest, Mr. Moody told police that he killed Mr. and Mrs. Parker because Mr. Parker was a registered sex offender.
- In September 2015, in Redding, CA, registrant Roy Matagora was shot three times and significantly injured by Timothy Gould when Mr. Matagora opened the front door of his home. After his arrest, Mr. Gould told police that he shot Mr. Matagora solely because he is a sex offender.
- In September 7, 2018 through September 15, 2018, in Hendersonville, TN, Court documents show 54-year-old Robert Sauer committed multiple acts of vandalism and went on a shooting rampage targeting registered sex offenders he found on the public registry, firing multiple (8 or more) shots at their cars and homes because he believed the judicial system failed and the men did not serve enough time in prison. At least 2 bullets passed all the way through the houses and at least one landed in the pillow on a bed. —