SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Nearly 4,000 people are on South Dakota’s sex offender list.
People who’ve been convicted of a sex crime are required to register so you know who is living in your community or neighborhood.
But not everyone follows the law.
Our KELOLAND News investigation looks into how many are failing to register, who among them are the most dangerous and what is, or in some cases isn’t, being done about it.
Being convicted of a sex crime in South Dakota could get you on the sex offender registry for life. But not everyone is following the letter of the law.
Like Glenn Zurcher. He recently found himself back behind bars accused of failing to update his registration.
In 2002, Zurcher was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl at the age of 21.
Failure to register is a felony, Punishable by up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
But not everyone who fails to register ends up behind bars. Take Ernest May. He’s listed on Illinois registry as a sexual predator and for failing to register there.
Then this month, May was picked up and charged with failing to register in South Dakota. May was let out on bond on the condition he register as a sex offender in South Dakota by 5 p.m. on May 13 and keep registration current.
KELOLAND Investigates has checked South Dakota’s list every day since then and no Ernest May is listed.
“It’s very difficult to track them down. People are very transient in nature. People can fall off the grid, Detective Ron Harris of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
There are 43 absconders in South Dakota
Angela Kennecke: Is it dangerous to have people out there who haven’t registered?
Detective Harris: I would say yes.
KELOLAND Investigates has dug into the backgrounds of some of the most violent offenders who have failed to register.
Niles Poor Bear sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl in Nebraska in 2015. He’s listed as “unlocatable” on South Dakota’s registry.
In 2002, Jonathon Martinez was convicted in South Dakota at the age of 47 with having sexual contact with a 15-year-old. He’s also on registries in Texas and Florida.
Steven Burt Carlson was convicted of rape in both California and Washington State, but never registered here.
Lee Hill was convicted in Vermont of a sex crime involving a 10-year-old girl
Marcus Dumarce sexually abused an 8-year-old girl.
William Carter was convicted of sexual contact with a 16-year-old boy.
KELOLAND investigates was able to track down an address on Carter and we went to check it out.
Angela Kennecke: Are you William Carter?
Man at door: “No.”
The same apartment complex was also listed online as the address for Nima Tamang who was convicted of rape.
We asked a tenant in the stairwell about him.
Angela Kennecke: Do you know him?
Angela Kennecke: Does he live here?
Tenant: “He did live here before but now he don’t I think. I think he already moved somewhere. He no more live here I guess.”
“Some offenders, while they may be in violation here, they may be unlocatable here and have a warrant for their arrest, may have actually transferred to state or jurisdiction, where they are not required to register,” Detective Harris said.
There are 800 registered sex offenders in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County.
24 are consistently on the list as absconders.
“The ones that have been on the list for a long time have left the state. They’ve gone other places in the country,” Detective Harris said.
But it’s more than just Sioux Falls detectives on the lookout for many of them. Those with federal convictions and who have crossed state lines are also on the Federal Marshall’s list. And the City receives federal money to try to find them.
“So now everyone is out looking for these people. So any time a patrol officer has contact with an individual on that list and they run their name in the computer system it pops up they are a local or non-compliant registered offender,” Detective Harris said.
One such offender is Leon Sails. Sails was listed as a violent offender on the Tennessee Registry for a 1995 conviction of attempting to commit aggravated sexual battery.
He was recently in court in Minnehaha County on felony failure to register charges where he pled not guilty and was released. He’s scheduled to go on trial August 12.
While overall the Justice Department found South Dakota in compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, the new report found that South Dakota does not include offenders’ employer or school addresses or vehicle information.
The Justice Department report also points out that while six of the state’s nine tribes use South Dakota’s sex offender registry, three do not. Instead, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe have their own.