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Ohio sees spike in number of sex offenders failing to keep registration current with sheriffs’ departments

Published: May. 7, 2021 at 8:55 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Sex offenders may be living nearby without you knowing-- and it’s likely because police don’t know it either.

19 Investigates took a look at the upswing the state is seeing in missing sex offender cases.

Deputies say it’s an increase in the amount of registered sex offenders who are illegally slipping out of police oversight.

𝗙𝗨𝗚𝗜𝗧𝗜𝗩𝗘 𝗙𝗥𝗜𝗗𝗔𝗬 50-year-old Rickey Betz Betz is registered as a habitual sex offender and is wanted for failure to...

Posted by Stark County Sheriff's Office on Friday, April 30, 2021

Just last week, the Stark County Sheriff’s office posted a warning on Facebook. Deputies are looking for 50-year-old Rickey Betz--- a habitual sex offender wanted for failure to notify a change of address.

Unfortunately, he’s just one of many Ohio law enforcement officers do not have current information on.

Inspector Bill Holland at the Summit County Sheriff’s office says it’s the law that deputies track down offenders, if they don’t meet address verification requirements.

“If they fail to come in and register, they are sent a letter to come in within 7 days... and if they don’t come in and register, we issue a warrant,” he said. “In most of these cases they have been to prison, done their time and they are out, but they have restrictions and it falls one the county sheriff’s office to monitor these sex offenders.”

It’s not only the law, but it’s to protect those in the communities sex offenders live in.

Holland says studies show within nine years, 50 percent of sex offenders will commit another offense.

“Now, that’s not necessarily a sex offense, but another offense,” he said.

In 2019, 19 Investigates went with Summit County deputies doing those routine address checks. We reported then that there were “nearly 200” non-compliant sex offenders in Ohio.

That’s nearly a 50% increase from two years ago. As of this month, there are now at least 294 who are wanted for failing to register, or not living at the address where they registered.

Holland says Summit County is seeing an increase on a more local scale too. He says usually the county makes between 50 and 70 arrests of non-compliant sex offenders each year.

Last year, the department made100 arrests on those cases. And, there have been 26 similar arrests already this year as of the end of April.

“The numbers are trending up a little bit,” Holland said. “I can’t say that’s because of the pandemic, but we are still diligent in focusing on this task.”

At least 105 offenders, more than a third of the state’s total, are missing from our viewing area.

Around half of that number are from Akron or Summit County.

But, Holland says that doesn’t necessarily mean what it sounds like. He says not all departments are as thorough-- meaning there could be even more missing sex offenders that we just don’t know are not accounted for.

“What I would like to believe is we are very diligent in verifying addresses,” he said. A sex offender can come in and give whatever address they want to give. We don’t just take their word for it. We go out and verify.”

There are restrictions to where sex offenders can live, but they are not banned from living in our communities.

If you believe someone is not following their probation rules however, you should call your local sheriff’s office.

19 Investigates put a list together of the missing sex offenders being sought by law enforcement in Ohio. “Still missing” means they were missing last time 19 Investigates did this story in September of 2020.

If you know where the offenders may be, call police.

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