Izard County's aggressive sex offender notification program is having a negative effect in that county -- at least for sex offenders. Currently, there are only five Level 3 and no Level 4 sex offenders living in the entire county. That's three times less than the number now living in either Fulton or Sharp counties.
Izard County Deputy Earnie Blackley is in charge of the sex offender registration program. He says when he is notified that a Level 3 or Level 4 sex offender has moved into Izard County he immediately begins notifying those living near the offender.
"I get my flyer with a photo and information printed and the next day I am out in the neighborhood alerting the residents," Blackley said. "It seems to be working and we're really lucky we don't have a larger number in our county."
Because of the diligence of Izard County authorities and neighbors living near a convicted sex offender, one tragedy was possibly prevented. In May of 2006, Robert G. Yeager, 59, moved into the Pineville area from New Jersey. He had served time in prison for kidnapping and raping adult females. Yeager threatened his victims with knives, tire tools and screwdrivers.
The Izard County Sheriff's Department notified neighbors and area newspapers that Yeager had moved into the area. After he had lived in Izard County only a few weeks, Yeager's neighbors notified the Izard County Sheriff's Department that Yeager was no longer staying at the Pineville residence. After investigating the matter, Izard County authorities determined that Yeager had moved to Virginia. Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence contacted Virginia authorities to notify them of Yeager's sex offender status.
According to reports, shortly after Yeager's arrival in the area of Victoria, Va., authorities received numerous tips that a middle-aged white male had approached several young females within that community.
Reports said the suspect would either ask victims to go for a ride in his vehicle or for him to ride in theirs. Others reported that the suspect told victims he wanted them to be sales associates at his antique car dealership. Once inside the vehicle, Yeager sexually assaulted the victims, according to police.
Yeager was arrested Sept. 8, 2006, by the Virginia State Police and the Victoria police chief. He was charged with one count of attempted rape and two counts of abduction of minors. The Victoria Police Department suspects Yeager has more victims.
At the time of the assaults, Yeager was living in Green Bay, Va., under the alias of Dave McCormick.
"We would like to believe that Yeager did not re-offend in Izard County because we kept a close surveillance on him," Lawrence said at the time of Yeager's arrest.
"We were lucky that wasn't our children," Blakely said.
The Arkansas Crime Information Center shows seven registered sex offenders for Izard County. Two of those seven, a Level 3 and a Level 4 are currently in prison. Of the other five, two live in Horseshoe Bend, one lives in Melbourne, one in Pineville and one in Calico Rock.
Izard County holds another distinction -- the only female sex offender in the three-county area lives there. Compared to the number of male sex offenders, females make up a very small percentage of those convicted of sex crimes. According to the ACIC Web site, there are no Level 4 female sexual predators registered in the state.
Laws requiring sex offenders to register with local law enforcement were first passed after an 11-year-old Minnesota boy, Jacob Wetterling, was abducted in 1989 while riding his bike with two other boys. His parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling, discovered through their son's investigation that most often children are abducted for purposes of sexual exploitation. In 1994, the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act was passed as part of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Although Jacob Wetterling has never been found, the Jacob Wetterling Foundation (www.jwf.org) continues to assist victim families of missing children and educate the public about sexual exploitation and abduction.
Megan's Law, named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, requires sex offenders and predators to register their physical address with law enforcement and to inform neighbors about the offender. The Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation (www.megannicolekankafoundation.org) says that every parent has the right to know if a dangerous sexual predator moves into their neighborhood. Megan was raped and killed by a neighbor who had served six years in prison for aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault of a child.
Sex offenders in Arkansas are assigned one of four levels by the Sex Offender Screening and Risk Assessment Program of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Although Level 1 and 2 offenders must register with local law enforcement they are considered at a low to moderate risk of repeating a sex crime. Level 3 offenders are considered a high risk to public safety and Level 4 are considered Sexually Violent Predators.
Local officials are required to inform the public when a Level 3 and Level 4 sex offender moves into their area. Their pictures are also posted on the ACIC Web site at www.acic.org.
Law enforcement professionals say the best prevention of a crime against a child is informing the public and keeping a close watch on offenders.
Those with questions or to report suspicious behavior should contact local law enforcement.
This information is made available for the purpose of providing the public information concerning Level 3 and Level 4 Registered Sex Offenders who may reside in the area. Anyone who uses this information to commit a criminal act against another person is subject to criminal prosecution.