The U.S. Marshals are known for getting their man.
Through sophisticated techniques, networking with law enforcement agencies nationwide and old-fashioned gumshoe work, the U.S. Marshals’ Southeastern Regional Fugitive Task Force has closed out more than 10,000 criminal warrants since its formation in 2003.
Now the marshals are teaming up with Georgia prison officials to try to locate the more than 400 registered sex offenders who have absconded from their last known addresses.
This week, the Georgia Department of Corrections announced its new partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service, paid for through a $500,000 Department of Justice grant. The money will be used to hire five officers and one intelligence analyst and pay for equipment and vehicles, said Dick Mecum, the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Georgia, who helped secure the grant for the corrections department.
"Sexual predators now have no place to run, no place to hide that we won’t be able to reach out and touch them," Mecum said.
Under Georgia law, a person who is required to register as a sex offender must keep local law enforcement updated on his or her home address and work place at all times. Failure to notify law enforcement of a change of address within 72 hours will result in classification as an absconder.
Of Georgia’s 400-plus absconders, 15 last lived in Hall County, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Among them is 32-year-old Christopher Carruthers. According to state corrections records, Carruthers served three years for a 1999 child molestation conviction in White County and another four years for failure to register as a sex offender. He was released from prison in 2005 and absconded two years later.
Mecum said many absconders move on to other states. He said with the new task force, "now we’re going to have a much greater ability to go nationwide to find these individuals."
In the past, the Southeastern Regional Fugitive Task Force concentrated on finding violent felons, with eight deputy marshals assisted by a complement of officers from more than 20 local law enforcement agencies in Georgia.
The new Sex Offender Apprehension Team will have offices in Atlanta, Savannah and Macon, Mecum said.
"We can really start putting the focus on child abusers, molesters, sexual predators," Mecum said. "Those are the individuals I want to go after — everyone does."