Police, parents keep tabs on Island sex offenders
Concerned about the recent abduction and murder of 11-year-old Sarasota schoolgirl Carlie Bruscia, Island police and parents are keeping a watchful eye on any sex offenders who live on the Island.
According to information available at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Web site for sexual offenders, eight men convicted of sexual offenses, including one listed as a sexual predator, live on Anna Maria Island. The sexual predator lives in Bradenton Beach, while five sex offenders live in Holmes Beach, another in Bradenton Beach and one in Anna Maria.
While Florida law states a convicted sexual predator can't live near a school or school bus stop, the same law doesn't apply for those convicted of a lesser sexual offense.
The FDLE Web site shows a convicted sexual offender lives just two blocks from Anna Maria Elementary School at 4500 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, and another convicted sexual offender resides at 2916 Gulf Drive.
Holmes Beach Police, school officials and members of the AME Parent-Teacher Organization are aware that the man moved to 4500 Gulf Drive in 2003 from Bradenton, and HBPD Officer Pete Lannon said the man is kept under watch as much as possible by police. AME is located at 4700 Gulf Drive.
The 30-year-old man at 4500 Gulf Drive formerly lived in Palmetto and Bradenton. He is described as a white male, 5 feet, 6 inches tall, about 155 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a tattoo on his left arm that says "Cocaine Comanchie."
He was convicted in 1995 of burglary of a dwelling with assault and sexual battery of an individual (not a minor). He received a six-year sentence with five years of probation. That incident apparently took place in Palmetto, according to the FDLE information.
The individual has since had three misdemeanor arrests, including one for solicitation of a prostitute. He was arrested by the HBPD in January 2004 for misdemeanor trespassing. The charge was eventually dropped by the state attorney's office.
According to available records at the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court Web site, the subject listed the Holmes Beach address and an address on 14th Street West in Bradenton when arrested in October 2003 by Longboat Key Police for various misdemeanor offenses.
Adjudication of charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia brought by Longboat Key police was withheld by the county court in February 2004.
The FDLE requires convicted sexual offenders to notify it of their address and any changes in residence, even after their supervision ends. The man living at 4500 Gulf Drive is no longer under FDLE supervision, an FDLE spokesperson said, but is still required to report any address change.
Convicted sex offenders "have to keep reporting their address to us for at least 20 years after their conviction," the spokesperson said.
Of the eight offenders listed by the FDLE living on the Island, five have been released from supervision, but not the Bradenton Beach man listed as a sexual predator.
The FDLE also reports that a Cortez man and a Longboat Key resident, both convicted sexual offenders, have been released from supervision. Two convicted sex offenders who lived on Key Royale Drive in 2002 have since moved off the Island.
Lannon, the HBPD's resource officer for AME, said he was aware of the convicted offender living at 4500 Gulf Drive through his own regular search of the FDLE Web site. Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Dave Bristow said the MCSO also informs local law enforcement about the presence of any convicted sex offender or predator moving to that city.
Lannon, however, doesn't rely on just notification by the MCSO, but checks the FDLE Web site at least once a month for any new sex offender moving to Holmes Beach and the Island.
If that person is a convicted sexual predator, information and photographs of the offender are distributed to parents and the PTO, he said.
Lannon said he also keeps the PTO informed about the presence of any convicted sex offenders on the Island.
"If there was some specific threat, like a sexual predator living on the Island, we would talk to them (the PTO) directly, but normally we just inform them of someone (on the Island) and direct them to the FDLE Web site," he said.
Lannon conducts regular classes and discussion groups for parents and AME students on how to deal with a potential sexual predator.
He added that information along with a photograph of the convicted sexual predator living in Bradenton Beach has been circulated to the school, PTO and parents.
The HPBD along with Bradenton Beach Police and the MCSO in Anna Maria keep tabs on all convicted sex offenders living on the Island.
PTO President Cindy Thompson said that discussion of a specific sex offender is not normally an agenda item at meetings unless that person is considered a "close threat."
"We talk about (sex offenders) in general and Lannon does programs throughout the year. If he felt it was a serious situation, he'll talk about it."
PTO members do, however, spread information about sex offenders living on the Island to other parents and PTO members.
Debbie Scott is chairperson of the Parents on Patrol committee of the PTO, and said she has distributed pictures and summaries of all sexual offenders on the Island to parents, not just the lone sexual predator.
"I try to keep track regularly [at the FDLE Web site] of any sex offender who has moved to the Island. I then make sure parents know where that person lives and who they are."
Scott said she is aware of the individuals at 4500 Gulf Drive and 2916 Gulf Drive, and other sex offenders living on the Island, and directs parents to visit the FDLE Web site to learn more.
Since the Carlie Bruscia abduction and murder in Sarasota earlier this year, Island parents have become increasingly worried about the safety of their children, many of whom walk home from AME.
"We try to keep everybody aware of who is living here, especially after the Bruscia incident. We're a pretty safe community," said Scott, but everybody with school kids should be aware of what sexual offenders live on the Island and where they live.
The FDLE Web site states that the man living at 2916 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach is a convicted sex offender still under supervision for lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 16. Scott said she has also made parents aware of this individual, along with his photograph and description.
The Bradenton Beach man classified as a sexual predator by the FDLE lives on Avenue C, while the man listed only as a sexual offender in that city resides on Fourth Street South.
Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said his officers routinely check on the men, and have informed nearby residents of the presence of the sexual predator.
The FDLE lists 303 convicted sexual offenders with Manatee County addresses, including several men convicted of rape and sexual battery who now live within a few blocks of schools. None of those individuals live on Anna Maria Island or in Cortez, according to the FDLE Web site.
For further information on sexual offenders living on Anna Maria Island, including photographs and descriptions, visit the FDLE Web site at www.fdle.state.fl.us.
Henry Vernon Barchard, 3501 Sixth Ave. Holmes Beach (released)
2 Richard Borstelman, 111 36th St. Holmes Beach (released)
3 Paul Howard Cashman, 6400 Flotilla Dr. Apt. 82, Holmes Beach (released)
4 Danal B. Deboer, 4500 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach (released)
5 Christopher Mearns, 2916 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach (supervision)
6 Joseph I. Russell, 111 Fourth St. S., Bradenton Beach (supervision)
7 Shane Welch (predator), 2417 Avenue C, Apt. A, Bradenton Beach (supervision)