Gregory Buerge: Inside the search for a sexually violent predator
Last night, sexually violent predator Gregory Buerge was arrested mere hours after the Lakewood Police Department put out an alert revealing that his whereabouts were unknown. In the opinion of Detective Ryan McKone, LPD spokesman, Buerge didn't go off the radar due to an oversight. "It appears to us that he was trying to lay low and purposefully didn't register, as he's required by law. It wasn't a matter of, 'Oh, I forgot.' We feel it was more a matter of, 'I don't want to do this anymore because I don't want to.'"
Big photos and more below.
Maybe so, since Buerge objected in court to the sexually violent predator label, as documented by a 2009 case before the Colorado Court of Appeals.
The opinion, on view below in its entirety, notes that Buerge allegedly made contact with what he thought was a fourteen-year-old girl named Kelly in an online chat room; the incident reportedly took place in 2007. He's said to have suggested that Kelly and a pal get together with him for oral sex and drug use and later spoke with her over the phone to arrange a meeting.
In truth, though, Kelly was a fictional persona created by two undercover cops, and when he showed up, they busted him for Internet luring -- and as a bonus, they're said to have found drugs and "sexual paraphernalia" on his person.
From the Lakewood Police Department Facebook page.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child under age fifteen and possessing more than a gram of a Schedule II controlled substance. But when he was also labeled a sexually violent predator, he appealed, contending "that the SVP statute requires the existence of an actual victim," the appeals court wrote. The authors of the opinion added, "We reject this contention."
According to the LPD, Buerge was released from Colorado Department of Corrections custody this past March, and in the beginning, he informed authorities about where he was staying, as required under the SVP statute. As such, he was featured in our July post spotlighting the sexually violent predators of Lakewood. Here's the image we published:
As you can see, Buerge's address was listed as 5637 West Colfax, a location captured in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
Cut to November 1, when law enforcers checked to see if he was still at the Colfax address -- and they found out he hadn't been there since the previous month. Hence, the announcement that his whereabouts were unknown. But yesterday, spokesman McKone says, "our agents and what we call our SET team -- our Special Enforcement Team -- tracked down some leads and found him in a trailer park not far from where he was last registered."
The importance of Buerge complying with the court's order shouldn't be underestimated, McKone feels. "Being labeled as a sexually violent predator by the courts and the prison system is serious, and it carries heavy implications. The law was created so the community can be informed and aware of these people. Years ago, there were several cases where people were unaware who their neighbor was, and now, our society expects that law enforcement and the judicial system keep track of them, so the community can feel safer. And it's the responsibility and burden of these convicted sexual offenders to register."
Not doing so has had some unpleasant repercussions for Buerge. "He's in custody," notes McKone, "and since he wasn't on any type of parole, it's an entirely new charge. He can get jail time or DOC time if he's convicted."
Here's a larger look at Buerge's booking photo: