Residents voice concerns about released inmate
Neighbors, concerned for their safety, are keeping a convicted killer and sex offender out of their city.
The Indiana Department of Corrections moved Robert Evan Lee from Bloomington to Butlerville in Jennings County.
The public can track Lee, too. But that's only temporary, so now there's a push to change state law. The fear about the convicted killer and his return back to Bloomington, prompted an outcry.
"It is scary. For your kids, your wives, your daughters," said Bloomington resident Victoria Branson.
"I'm very upset about it. I don't feel safe," added Irene Miksik.
Lee, 57, who murdered and dismembered IU grad student Ellen Marks in 1986 and put her body parts in trash bags, was freed from prison Saturday, after serving just 25 years of a 60-year sentence.
The Department of Corrections normally sends parolees to live in the county in which they were convicted. But folks in Bloomington said no - loudly.
"I don't think you need to put somebody like that right in the middle of a college town. Put him somewhere else," Branson said last week.
Now they have. Public pressure caused the DOC to take Lee out of Monroe County and move him about an hour-and-a-half away to Jennings County for his year-long parole.
Another change - Lee is now listed on Indiana's sex and violent offender registry. It's a condition of his parole because of the violent murder and because he has a previous attempted rape conviction.
It's also a relatively common practice by the parole board to add such stipulations for violent parolees. But public concern isn't over. When Lee's parole is over, his picture and address will disappear off the registry.
"The reason is that he has no requirement to register, according to our statutes," explained Indiana Sheriff's Association Executive Director Steve Luce.
The law says Lee's crimes happened too long ago - before the registry's creation. Neighbors want a change.
"Yeah, I've got a seven-year old. Of course I want to know (where he lives)," said Bloomington resident Jay Cimmer.
The Indiana Sheriff's Association, which runs the registry, agrees. In fact, it plans to lobby lawmakers to require sexual and violent offenders, regardless of conviction date, be on the list.
"We most certainly think that everybody should have that information available to them, simply because we want to make their neighborhoods or community as safe as possible," Luce said. "We just have to make sure we work with the legislators. Please let your local sheriff know about your concerns because that's what we're trying to do right now this next legislative session."
"I would think you want that to be tracked, especially with very violent crimes," said Bloomington resident Michelle Axsom.
Changing state law won't be easy. The Sheriff's Association says any attempt will likely bring lawsuits from offenders.
It has in the past.
They say it's a tough balance between the freedom for offenders who've served their time and neighbors' safety. Lee, by the way, is being tracked by police and through a GPS ankle bracelet for the next year.