Elusive sex offender is arrested

Howard police help arrest woman in Western Md.

December 09, 2005|By MELISSA HARRIS | MELISSA HARRIS,SUN REPORTER

Howard County police found their last missing sex offender Tuesday, arresting Karen Diane Hammond at a motel in Western Maryland.

Six Howard County detectives and two Washington County sheriff's deputies arrested Hammond, 49, a convicted child sex offender formerly of Jessup and Columbia, at a Red Roof Inn off of Interstate 81 in Williamsport, where she was living under a false name.

The arrest closes the final gap in Chief Wayne Livesay's voluntary effort to confirm the accuracy of the Howard County addresses listed in the state's online registry, which anyone can search to find sex offenders living near them.

Livesay ordered sweeps after Baltimore County police discovered that a man wanted in connection with killing his 13-year-old stepdaughter and setting fire to their residence also was a sex offender whom authorities there had not tracked. The topic will be an important and frequently discussed one during the coming session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. both have proposals ready for debate, which include twice-a-year, in-person registrations, electronic monitoring for violent and child sex offenders, and increasing punishment for noncompliance to a felony. Faking or failing to report an address is now a misdemeanor, although it can carry a short jail sentence.

Sweeps, such as the ones Howard County police conducted in July and last month, took only a few days, but in the case of Hammond, required significant manpower.

Hammond first reported a Jessup address to police, but it was a welding business. Then, she gave a Columbia address, according to a written letter from Hammond, included in court records made available after her arrest. The person who answered the door told police that he had kicked Hammond out months before.

A tip led police to Washington and Allegany counties. Detectives served Hammond with five warrants, including drug charges and failing to appear in court on traffic violations in Baltimore County and Baltimore City. She is being held in the Howard County Detention Center without bail, according to police.

"She went peacefully through what's called contain and call," said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. "Detectives identified where she was, contained her inside the motel and then called her to let her know they were outside and coming in to get her."

Since July, Howard County police found 14 noncompliant offenders, three of whom were repeat offenders. Detectives worked with authorities in Arizona, New York and Pennsylvania. Some offenders turned themselves in after seeing their photos on television or their names in the newspaper.

Llewellyn said that surprise checks on offenders living in the county would continue.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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