I can't believe that i have never written about this before- I guess watching the news lately made me think of it again. Some of you readers may already know this story, but for those of you who do not - Please take this as a little "lesson learned" that you should always be very aware of your surroundings and that you can never be too careful....
So anyways, this story goes back 2 years to when Pat and I moved into our very lovely apartment in Ohio. We looked and looked and looked for a nice apartment which was surprisingly hard to find. Nonetheless, we did find a really nice community that was part of a country club and larger neighborhood that had really gorgeous houses in it. Most people in the development were older and owned their units so it seemed like a nice safe place to live.
When we got settled in, a few of our neighbors kept telling us how "we have to meet the young couple across the hall from us".....the girl had my same name and they were our same age so it sounded promising. I did end up running into the guy in the hall one day and although he was a little nerdy he seemed "nice." He was this huge guy( like 6' 7")...and every time I was coming or going from the apartment he seemed to be leaving for the gym. Even when i would come home at noon to eat my lunch he was always in his car sort of waiting to walk in and have a conversation with me.
Our little meetings got to be too ironic and so Pat and I started to call him "the creeper" and Pat was pretty insistent that I just avoid him at all costs. Something that -lets be honest -is pretty hard to do with a clingy neighbor unless you completely resign yourself to being a giant biotch and walking past him when he speaks to you (all the time). I hate to say it - but even though he weirded me out, I was nice to him because i didn't want to be mean.
Another weird layer to "the creeper" was his mystery wife. I had met her once and she invited us to go to the movies with them. We declined and then I never saw her again. Months went by without any other appearances from her - despite the fact that the creeper would often talk about her like she actually lived there. Pat and I decided that he had probably killed her and put her body into the scary storage area that was in the garage. I know that isn't anything we should have joked about, but it was just too weird......THEN the very next day after we had had that conversation inside of our apartment behind many layers of drywall and insulation - The creeper (once again magically "running into me" in the hall) told me " I know you think i killed my wife - ha ha"......i nervously laughed it off - but then began to think that he had one of those creepy listening devices that went through walls that you see advertised on infomercials....and the scary part was he probably did.
So fast forward a few more months when Pat and I were eagerly house hunting. We had found a great house in a nice neighborhood and I was telling my boss all about it. He asked about the school system in that area and I realized I knew nothing about it. Well, during my google search I came across a link to the national sex offender registry. Yep....you see where this is going right??? SO i entered in the address of the prospective house we were looking at and it was totally in the clear. Then i casually entered in my California house (safe), my sisters houses, our rental property in florida, my parents house, and then my current address in the apartment complex (in the country club, near daycares, and lots of children playing in their gigantic backyards).....and you guessed it - There was a big RED DOT right in my hood. I clicked on it for more information and much to my horror it was the unit directly across the hall. The creeper - was actually 100% a real life creeper. No more joking.
He went to jail for 2 years for soliciting a minor online. He had gotten out a while before we moved in, but I genuinely do not think that anyone else in that complex knew about his past. It pretty much scared me to pieces when his picture showed up on my screen. How the hell did we end up living next door to a pedophile - and how was he so under the radar that no one knew? I felt like i should have been notified - and i really struggled with whether or not i should out him to all of the neighbors.
Before this, I really only pictured sex offenders living in slummy gross areas. I was so mad because I just felt like he absolutely did not deserve to live amongst normal people like myself. In my mind he shouldn't have been out of jail....and it was sort of embarrassing in this weird way that he had made the same living arrangements that we had.
If we had any kids I know we would have moved out that second, but because we didn't and because we knew we were moving, we stayed put a few more months. He actually moved out before we did - his wife finally divorced him and kicked him out, but he definitely knew that we knew and pretty much stopped talking to me thank God.
I did a scary amount of research on him and actually even contacted his parole officer to find out more about the actual case. When he got caught - there wasn't an actual victim. The minor he solicited online was actually an undercover cop and I pray to God that this was his only offense, however it seems hard to believe. Regardless, I followed him online to see where he moved - and just as you guessed it - It was another nice-ish neighborhood where tons of families live.I urge anyone to check out this registry if you haven't already. It is unbelievable to see how many offenders there are and to know that you are not sheltered from them by living in a nice family friendly area. This guy was 27, went to college, had a very pretty and successful wife, he drove a nice car and was absolutely not who I had pictured to be a sex offender.
Be safe and check it out today if you have not done it already.