On Halloween, all the little ghosts and goblins will hit the streets for candy.
But experts tell NBC 6 South Florida that Halloween is the most dangerous time of the year when it comes to kids being vulnerable to sex predators.
The Special Team of Miami-Dade Police and a federal marshal, who track sex offenders, have been out almost around the clock in the last several weeks to keep tabs on predators. But they can’t be everywhere, and the mix of candy, costumes, and kids is a nightmare, the officers said.
It’s nightfall and the hunt is on for sexual offender Jeremy Bender. With Halloween approaching, the authorities want to know just where he is.
“This time of year, you’re going to have a lot of kids that are going to be out at night when it’s dark,” said Barry Golden, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals.
Bender’s crime is sending child porn on the Internet. The officers searched but did not find him at the address he was mandated to provide.
Sgt. Rodger Irvine who heads the Sex Predator Enforcement Team said: “So basically, it’s going to be more work for us tomorrow and more research to find out just where he’s at.”
That research indicated the feds picked up Bender for allegedly testing positive on a drug test and that violated a term of his probation.
The Miami-Dade Sex Predator Enforcement Team has its hands full. There are 2,000 offenders deemed dangerous to kids who they have to keep a close eye on, especially now.
Halloween night, a perfect storm for those found to have abused minors. The officers say the mix of candy, costumes and trick-or-treating means sleepless nights for psychologists and police who monitor sex predators.
A separate team of probation officers have also been out for the last several days. They are telling sex predators and offenders that according to the judge’s orders, they can’t participate in Halloween. No costumes, no turning the lights on at their home, and no giving candy to kids.
The team headed to Opa-Locka hoping to find a man, Eric Cherry, who had sex with a minor outside Florida, but moved here without making mandatory reporting visits. Any sex offender who comes to Florida from out of state must report within 48 hours of crossing the state line.
Cherry is going to jail. He was taken away in his shorts and tank top, leaving his wife behind. Irvine says Cherry’s wife didn’t know he hadn’t complied with Florida law.
“She was surprised we showed up at the house,” said Irvine.
“Wow. I didn’t know. I’m shocked,” said Rev. Henry Falson, Cherry’s neighbor.
The minister living across the street was caught off-guard with Cherry’s secret revealed.
“I didn’t. I’m shocked. When I saw you there, I knew it was something serious,” said Rev. Falson when asked if he knew about Cherry’s background and his past.
“I don’t have to register until next month,” said Samuel Hickman, sex offender, while getting arrested.
But police say they arrested Hickman because he told them he was living in downtown Miami, but really he was in a residential neighborhood 10 miles away, and that’s a violation of his supervision.
“I’m with Miami-Dade. I need to verify your address,” said Irvine when trying to locate sex offender Wencelao Dearmas.
Irvine was successful in locating Dearmas, he answered the knocks. But no such luck with Evelio Boyero.
“We knocked on the door. We asked for the subject and he no longer resides at this address,” said Irvine, “And now we have to find him.”
Irvine said Boyero’s brother told him that his brother was in the hospital in Broward County.
Irvine’s advice to parents who are taking their children trick-or-treating: “If you are approaching a house on Halloween, know which house you are approaching, which house you are going to. We are supplying you with information you can use and I suggest you use it.”
To find registered sex offenders click here.