FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Many people were shocked to hear that 14 registered sex offenders live in the mobile home park where 9-year-old Aliahna was brutally murdered.
Even some Northway Mobile Home Park residents didn't realize that more than a quarter of the property's 54 lots are occupied by sex offenders. Although Michael Pluamdore, the man preliminarily charged with Aliahna Lemmon's murder, is not a registered sex offender, Aliahan's grandfather, who died earlier this month, was. Kathleen McKee said she is one of those residents who didn't realize who was living in her neighborhood.
"It's ground zero for them. They've got to live somewhere and this is the place they've chosen to live. And I did not really know that until I moved in. But now that I do know that, I know where to go now--away from here. My kids are my number one concern of my life and I'll do whatever I have to do to keep them safe," McKee said.
The high concentration is due to an Indiana law commonly called the 1,000 foot rule. The legislation requires sex offenders on the state's registry to live at least 1,000 feet away from schools, youth centers, and public parks.
Detective Cpl. Mike Smothermon with the Allen County Sheriff's Department says that naturally leads to a clustering of sex offenders in other residential areas.
Schools, youth centers, and parks are often found in the middle of towns or cities, where affordable housing is more abundant. Since sex offenders often have trouble finding employment due to their criminal background, they are forced to look for more affordable places to live outside the heart of the city or town in order to steer clear of schools, parks, or youth centers. In many instances, there are very few low cost options. Therefore, when an affordable residential area is found that meets all the requirements, sex offenders tend to cluster there. Sometimes they even live with one another as roommates to lower the cost.
Of the 14 registered sex offenders in the area, most of them are charged with incidents involving children, such as child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, or child pornography. Because of this disturbing information, it was reported that one family with young children moved out the night Aliahna Lemmon’s body was found.
McKee said with the number of sex offenders in combonation with Aliahna's murder, she is moving back to her hometown of Muncie, Ind.
"We're moving. I can't. I'm not going to be around this. I'm not going to subject my children to this. It's not fair to them, it's not fair to us as a community. We're all living here. This is our home. You can't be safe in your own home anymore? That's not fair," McKee said.
Sometimes, says Smothermon, the living options are so limited sex offenders end up breaking the registry rules. "We see in large part that they (offenders) try to be compliant, but when we keep telling them, 'No, you can't live here - it's too close to a school. No, you can't live there - it's too close to a park,' I think that they get frustrated, and some of them become non-compliant."
If you know of a registered sex offender who is not being compliant with the registry rules, you can submit an anonymous tip at americasmostwanted.com.
To find out where sex offenders in your area live, check out the state or national sex offender registries. Both are located on the Allen County Sheriff's Department's website. http://www.allencountysheriff.org/sexoffender/
The website listed above also gives you the opportunity to sign up for customized email alerts. If a sex offender moves into your area, you will be sent an email detailing who the offender is, what crime they committed, and where they are moving. You can also access the sign up page directly click here.
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