Sex offender charged with child molestation

Thursday, March 17, 2005

OREGON COUNTY -- A Thayer man has been charged with felony child molestation after an investigation involving a 7-year-old Oregon County girl.

According to the Oregon County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Elwyn L. Vanmeter, 48, of Thayer was arrested and charged March 11 by officers with the Oregon County Sheriff's Department and Troop G of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Highway Patrol Investigator Warren W. Wiedmann first interviewed Vanmeter at the Thayer Police Station March 9 concerning allegations made by a 7-year-old female. Wiedmann and Sgt. M.H. Brand again interviewed Vanmeter March 11.

According to an affidavit, the girl said Vanmeter would take her fishing and make her sit on his lap. She said he would rub her private area through her clothes, the document said. The girl said she slapped at his hand and told him to stop, the affidavit said.

The affidavit also states the girl told the investigators Vanmeter baby-sat her at her grandmother's home in Oregon County. The girl told the investigators on more than one occasion, either while her grandmother was in another room or not present, Vanmeter had inappropriately touched her. She also told authorities she would go to his home to play video games and the same thing would happen. When asked how many times this had happened the girl said "lots of times," according to the affidavit.

The officers interviewed the girl's grandmother who said she has known Vanmeter since September 2004. She said he had been taking her granddaughter fishing since October 2004, the affidavit said.

The grandmother told investigators Vanmeter watched her granddaughter at her home and at his residence several times.

During the March 9 interview with the investigators Vanmeter said he took the young girl fishing in January and February at the Warm Fork River, according to the affidavit. He told the officers he rubbed the girl's private area through her clothes and that she had slapped his hand and told him to stop. He said he had done the same thing at his home in Thayer and at the girl's grandmother's home, the affidavit said.

After Vanmeter told investigators this information, the affidavit states he wrote a letter to Oregon County Prosecuting Attorney Fred O'Neill that stated he needed help to keep from abusing other young girls.

Oregon County Sheriff's Office in Alton showed Vanmeter first registered as a sex offender in Oregon County on July 27, 2004. He had been convicted in Iowa of second- and third-degree sex abuse involving someone less than 14 years old.

Oregon County Deputy Tom Lamb is in charge of registering sex offenders in the county. He said sex offenders are ordered to register on their birthdays and every 90 days after that. He said there are currently 34 to 40 registered sex offenders in Oregon County.

Vanmeter posted a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in Oregon County Circuit Court April 13.

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