Matthew Caulk, sex offender, recaptured -- but why was he wearing passive GPS device?
Update: Last week, we told you about the sweeping search for Matthew Caulk, a sex offender who'd previously been the subject of a nationwide manhunt; see our previous coverage below. Yesterday, he was recaptured in Aurora. But the way he was being monitored when he walked away from a halfway house raises questions about the capacity of the GPS unit that had been strapped to his ankle.
Big photos below.
As we reported, Caulk made national headlines in 2007, when he vanished with a sixteen-year-old Lakewood girl with whom he was said to be having a "consensual" relationship -- although it's not clear how consensual it would have been had she known he was the target of two active warrants owing to a 2002 conviction in Washington state for sexual misconduct with a child. The story was featured on America's Most Wanted, CNN, ABC and plenty of other national outlets prior to the discovery of him and the girl in Morrison; she was unharmed.
In 2010, Caulk was sentenced to 45 months of federal prison for failing to register as a sex offender, to be followed by an extra eight years on supervised release. However, his punishment is guaranteed to change after he skated from the halfway house, prompting a U.S. Marshals Service alert complete with a slew of photos seen on page three of this post.
The 3800 block of South Ventura Street in Aurora, where Matthew Caulk was recaptured.
Once again, though, he didn't go far. He was located at a house on the 3800 block of South Ventura Street in Aurora at about 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon, during the teeth of a snowstorm. Not that a few flakes deterred the cops. In a statement, chief deputy Kenneth Deal said, "Despite the weather conditions here in Colorado we continued to pursue Caulk night and day. When a dangerous predator is on the loose we don't stop. A CrimeStoppers tip and a lot of old fashioned detective work led us to Caulk."
That's tough talk -- but the ease of his getaway has focused attention on his GPS device. As 7News reports, Caulk was wearing a "passive" ankle monitor that only sends data when it's docked in a GPS unit, as opposed to real-time locating. In contrast, Denver uses the latter type of GPS monitoring for most clients considered high risk, including sex offenders.
Why wasn't Caulk, a demonstrated flight threat with a dangerous history, fitted with a similar device? Here's a statement provided to 7News by Joe Starman, director of the halfway house to which Caulk had been assigned:
Independence House operates a GPS tracking system on sex offender residents that are judicially placed in our program. We currently have a GPS tracking system that enables us to passively monitor client movement and gives us active alerts should a client tamper or cut off the unit. This provides us an additional level of accountability on the resident. In addition, we actively monitor client accountability via client sign-in/sign out logs, telephone check-in calls, telephonic verifications, on-sites and facility house-counts.Expect debate about whether this system is strict enough, especially in light of Caulk's several-day joy trip away from state supervision.
Clients who fall under this classification are mandated to register with the Denver Police Department within 5 days of arriving to the program. Clients are also required to re-register annually on their birth date, every 90 days if convicted of an offense that requires this or has a change of address. Clients are authorized to sign-out of the facility if approved for a specific activity (ie...work, treatment, legal, medical etc.) with pre-authorized travel-time allotted and given a stipulated time to return to the program.
Should a client fail to return to the program at the mandated time, the program will contact the jurisdiction having authority over the offender. Clients are placed on safety plans and must have approval from the supervising officer and the treatment provider to attend specific locations or employment while in the program.
Continue for our previous coverage of the search for Matthew Caulk.