Colbert County citizens upset after not being notified about sex offenders

Residents upset after they were not notified quickly about sex offenders moving into the area.

Posted: Mar 21, 2018 6:17 PM
Updated: Mar 21, 2018 6:22 PM

Changes are on the way for how people are notified about sex offenders in Colbert County and Tuscumbia.

Upset neighbors called WAAY 31 after learning registered sex offenders moved into their community and nobody told them about it for weeks.

Patrick Story was convicted of having child pornography in Etowah County on Jan. 24. He is one of the registered sex offenders living at the Four Way Inn off of Highway 43 in Tuscumbia. William Mathis was convicted of having obscene material in Shelby County on Jan. 30, he is also residing at the Four Way Inn.

Both men are in a reentry program hosted by a non profit named Outreach Reentry Ministry, which is ran by Willie Simpson. Chester McKinney bought the old Four Way Inn and teamed up with Simpson to start the reentry program.

Story is registered as living at the inn since Feb. 16. Mathis was registered as living there since Feb. 27.

People who live near the Four Way Inn were not notified until Mar. 14, about the sex offenders living there. We uncovered a serious flaw in the system lead to citizens not being notified immediately.

"It was a surprise for us," said Elizabeth Ables, who lives near the Four Way Inn. "It makes you a little nervous understandably so."

Ables like many other residents felt blindsided.

"This is very concerning and it should trouble a lot of people," said Colbert County citizen, Edward Bowan. "Our public is not being informed when sexual offenders are moving into the area."

We spent a week asking Tuscumbia Police and the Colbert County Sheriff’s Office that question.

"There was a lot of discussions about one getting the information to us, and as soon as we got the information we got it out there as quick as we could. That's one reason we pushed it to Facebook," said Tuscumbia Police Chief, Tony Logan.

The Colbert County Sheriff told WAAY 31 both men notified his office, but where the men live is in Tuscumbia police’s jurisdiction. It took two weeks for police to get that information. State law requires police to notify neighbors within 3 days.

"I talked with the Attorney Generals office to make sure we were in compliance. Hopefully we will be able to stay on top of these things in the future," said Logan.

The Colbert County Sheriff said, his office will start sending out a time stamped email to municipalities; such as Tuscumbia, to let police know sex offenders should be coming by to register.

"I can defiantly tell you we will be going around and making sure they are in compliance," said Logan.

Upset residents still packed out Tuesday nights Colbert County Commission meeting voicing their concerns.

"Everybody has a past and we also deserve to have a future and every opportunity afforded for that future," said Ables.

The sheriff told the crowd of people at the commission meeting as long as Outreach Reentry Ministry accepts ex felons, there isn't anything they can legally do.

Chief Logan, the Sheriff and other county officials said they are planning to meet and discuss better ways to inform the public about sex offenders moving into the area. Officials are also trying to see if the sex offenders broke any laws during their registration.

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