Recent arrest highlights flaws in Mo. sex offender registry - KMOV.com

Recent arrest highlights flaws in Mo. sex offender registry

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(KMOV.com) – Residents of a St. Louis County neighborhood recently discovered someone living among them was a sex offender.

62-year-old Wilbur Wells was recently arrested and accused of fondling an 11-year-old girl. After he was taken into custody, neighbors found out he is a convicted rapist.

“I'm really shocked to hear about that, especially considering the children, because there are so many kids around here,"  neighbor Claudia Bravo said.

Wells was convicted in 1983 but his name does not appear on Missouri’s sex offender list. The database was created in 1995 and anybody who became a sex offender after that date is automatically added. Authorities said those who were convicted of such crimes before 1995 are required to register on an honor system because officials would have to comb through decades of court records to track them down.

“Typically they come under the radar again if they commit another offense,” said Detective Andrew Whelehon of the St. Louis County Police. “However that doesn't necessarily have to be the way they get put back on the radar, if we know about somebody that needs to be investigated we'll do it.”

Bravo said the current system is not comforting to parents.

“It [the system] needs to be fixed now, because there are too many innocent children out here that are being put at risk,” Bravo said.

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