Lomi Kriel - Express-News
So far, the pair had netted four fugitives, but their fifth, a 24-year-old man wanted on a charge that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old, was proving more elusive.
Charles Lowe wasn't at his grandmother's East Side home, she said, wringing her hands while standing on her neatly pruned lawn. She hadn't seen her grandson for months, and had been praying for him ever since he first ended up in prison in 2005 on an unrelated charge.
Patiently, the agents headed back across town to the home of a woman Lowe knew and where he had been recently spotted.
“There's a lot of kids that are going to be on the streets pretty soon,” said Smith, who headed the sweep. “That's the main thing. We wanted to make sure our kids are safe.”
But registered sex offenders in Texas are required to turn off their porch lights and are prohibited from having any exterior decorations between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Halloween, with parole, probation and police officers checking to see if they comply.
Some critics say those measures unnecessarily scapegoat sex offenders who already are complying with the conditions of their parole. They also point to federal statistics that show juvenile sexual assault victims know their abusers 93 percent of the time. Mostly, it's a family member or a friend. Rarely is it a stranger.
Writing on his site, Grits for Breakfast, he said, “Just let the kids go get some candy. ... And if you're worried about what will happen, tag along.”
Henson cites only one publicized Halloween sexual assault and abduction of a child — in Wisconsin in 1973, involving a man with no prior criminal record, who therefore wouldn't have raised any red flags for authorities.
In that case, Gerald Turner, who later became known as the “Halloween killer,” sexually assaulted and killed 9-year-old Lisa French after she knocked on his door while trick-or-treating.
In Bexar County, home to about 2,500 registered sex offenders, Smith, the deputy U.S. marshal, said their sweep — regardless of Halloween — was a way to spotlight the task force's new sex offender unit and also made some valuable arrests.
Sex-offense suspects are some of the hardest to find, Smith said, because the social stigmatization of the crimes means they tend to fall under the radar. But, referring to Lowe, he said: “We'll find him eventually. We always do.”