Sex Offender Sent Back to Home State
In total, we combined the books for twenty-two Mid-Missouri counties, home to more than 1,500 offenders and while many offenders abide by the law, legal loopholes keep some offenders too close to your kids and there's nothing you can do change it.
It's a place where neighbors still hang their laundry out to dry, where teenage girls feel safe enough to jog down a country road...at the top of the town's hill rests forgiveness and hope in a school and it's steeple.
"Yeah, I wish I could go back to that day..."
In plain sight from his driveway, a mere 600 feet away, St. Stanislaus Catholic school serves a constant reminder of the mistake he made.
Missouri sex offender Jim Williams: "Exposing myself to girls at the mall."
A 2006 offense forced Jim Williams out of a job and onto Missouri's Sex Offender Registry.
"We moved here before the law went in to effect..."
That law is Missouri Revised Statute 566.147 which states: Certain offenders cannot reside within one-thousand feet of a school or child care facility.
But a grandfather clause allows Williams and his family to live within the residential restrictions enacted by the state in June of 2006.
Our team went to extraordinary lengths to map out every sex offender in twenty-two Mid-Missouri counties.
What we discovered, because of grandfather clauses and an array of loopholes, 22.3% percent of registered sex offenders legally live within 1,000 feet of schools and daycares.
Eldon School District, Matt Davis: "I'd even if they're grandfathered in or there are other loopholes, we need to stop those loopholes."
But our investigation netted a sex offender with no loophole to fall back on.
"I don't know how this one slipped through the cracks."
He was in direct violation of Missouri State Law.
"You could throw a rock."
Shockingly, he was living directly across the street from hundreds of children at Eldon upper and lower elementary schools
Miller County Sheriff, Bill Abbott: "If the law says you can't be a certain amount of feet from a school, that's what the law means. There's no if's, ands, or in-betweens."
In October 2009, a Missouri judge convicted Illinois resident Paul Houdyshell of statutory sodomy of a 15-year-old girl.
Missouri Department of Corrections, Jacqueline Lapine: "The situation for someone to come into town and get a charge and have this happen is certainly unique. The parole officer somehow didn't get the information across and yeah, it's frustrating that this happened."
The Missouri Department of Corrections says it knew Houdyshell was violating state law for nearly three months.
"The information is there, but it's up to the citizens to look and find that information out for themselves."
The D.O.C. failed to inform the school district and sheriff's department leaving them in the dark.
"We really do appreciate, you don't know how much, you letting us know this."
Once we notified the miller county sheriff's department,
"We're on our way up there to get him removed."
It only took a matter of hours before deputies gave Houdyshell a choice.
"Pack your bags, it's time to leave or go to jail."
"It don't take a brain scientist to know he'd too close to Eldon."
"This is certainly not abiding by the statute."
"Is there a way we could have handled this situation any better? I don't think so. Our hands are kind of tied."
"This is definitely an area that we need to work on and improve our communication."
"Knowing that this individual was with his family. Knowing that he could be monitored of every second of every day. That's going to decrease the risk to the public as opposed to having him on the streets, wandering around."
It comes down to a difference in opinion. One which parents and school officials couldn't take comfort in because all he had to do was wander out his front door.
This investigation did lead to Paul Houdyshell's immediate transfer back to his home-state of Illinois, where he's now listed on its sex offender registry and serving the rest of his probation.
New Tuesday at 6 p.m. eighteen sex offenders all under one roof. We'll tell you where they're living and why they are there in the second half of this Target 8 Investigation.
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