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February 24, 2009

GPS tracking confirms, but does prevent, murder of teen by sex offender

Though GPS tracking might seem to hold great promise for regulating the activities of certain dangerous offenders upon their release from prison, this local story from Oregon highlights why this technology is not a panacea:

A GPS tracking unit that a homeless sex offender is required to wear corroborates his story that he killed a 13-year-old girl in a Hazel Dell field, investigators said today. According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Clark County Superior Court, Darrin Eugene Sanford was being monitored by the state Department of Corrections, and the GPS unit shows he was in the field when Alycia Nipp was killed Saturday night.

Detectives investigating the case identified Sanford, 30, based on descriptions provided by people who had seen him in the area. The affidavit says that when they questioned him, he confessed. He told detectives he met the girl near some vacant homes and walked with her into the field, where he tried to have sex with her....

Department of Corrections records show Sanford as a Level III sex offender — the category considered most likely to reoffend — and that he had been convicted in Clark County for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Department spokesman Chad Lewis said today that Sanford had been on GPS monitoring because he did not have stable housing. Sanford also had been complying with requirements that he check in daily with his community corrections officer and pay court-ordered restitution, Lewis said. He passed at least his last two drug tests and there was no indication he had tried to tamper with his GPS locator, at least not recently, Lewis said.

February 24, 2009 at 09:52 PM | Permalink


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Sadly, no, but it seals his guilt, and that, hopefully, will prevent his harming another victim.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 24, 2009 10:21:04 PM

Professor, I realize this is a blog, and therefore done on the fly, so typos are to be expected and generally ignored. Don't you think it was a pretty big goof, though, to leave out the word NOT in the title for this post (i.e., GPS . . . does NOT prevent murder)?

Posted by: anon | Feb 25, 2009 11:28:41 PM

Sometimes the rapist ends up dead...

My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn't a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn't my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other victims know that they’re not alone and to help victims of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at www.Amazon.com

For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at www.meninmytown.wordpress.com

Posted by: Keith Smith | Jun 10, 2009 1:15:42 AM

I am a GPS enthusiast who closely follows all of the news related to GPS tracking technology. IMO one of the biggest problems we have is that people assume GPS tracking can do everything, when in fact it is only a tool. At the end of the day, it is parole officers, probation officers and police departments who need to analyze GPS data and look for information that could be concerning. A GPS bracelet does absolutely nothing if nobody is closely monitoring the data.

Posted by: GPS Tracking System | Sep 10, 2011 8:33:39 PM

Usually, a GPS tracker will fall into one of these three categories, though most smartphones, being GPS Phones, can work in all these modes, depending on which mobile applications are installed...

Posted by: Car tracking | Jul 22, 2012 7:20:36 AM

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