A sex offender with a history of contacting underage kids and refusing to register is behind bars after parents found out he was buying cigarettes for several teenagers in the Gem Heights area of South Hill, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
The 41-year-old was found living in a homeless camp behind a supermarket in the 9500 block of 176th Street East. Deputies soon discovered he was wanted on a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender. He is a level-three sex offender, considered the most likely to reoffend.
He was being held Tuesday in the Pierce County jail with bail set at $5,000 in connection with the South Hill offense, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
He was first convicted of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in Idaho in 2001.
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“He has a history of contacting minors,” Troyer said. “He’s been in trouble before for texting 13-year-old kids. He’s been with younger kids when he shouldn’t have been.”
The man was arrested for failing to register in 2013 in Pierce County and served time in Montana that year for failing to register there.
In 2007, he aroused suspicion when he posed as an Iraq War veteran in Kitsap County and went to several local churches asking for food and housing. Police there also found an outstanding warrant for failure to register as a sex offender.
Pierce County investigators are concerned he might have been grooming kids in the area.
“We believe that there could be victims out there,” Troyer said. “And if there’s someone out there that we haven’t heard from, we’d like to hear from them.”