City gave the state wrong data on rapist

Officials lost track of man now held in October attack

Sun exclusive

December 05, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,SUN REPORTER

Anne Arundel County police who suspected that a twice-convicted rapist was dodging registration requirements for sex offenders abandoned their effort to track him down after a Baltimore detective incorrectly told the state he was behind bars, according to police e-mails released to The Sun.

Word of the error reached the state, not county police, who had wrongly become convinced that finding Eugene Waller was not their job. Those were among the breakdowns and missteps in tracking Waller, 49, who was arrested Oct. 9 in the rape of a woman at a Linthicum light rail station.

Just days before the October attack, Waller was acquitted on a technicality of indecent exposure on another light rail train and walked out of a courtroom - though a warrant should have been out for his arrest in the failure to register a current address.

For more than a year before that, authorities in two jurisdictions had been unsuccessful in locating him, and he had been inadvertently left off of the state's public database for sex offenders.

"We've tried to learn from the Waller case whether there are other offenders in the same position, and how should we handle them if they are," said Lt. David Waltemeyer, assistant commander of the Anne Arundel police criminal investigations division.

State and local authorities said they have clarified their roles in tracking sex offenders after the flaws were discovered in the handling of the Waller case. Among them:

An Anne Arundel County judge in August 2006 placed Waller on unsupervised probation after his release from prison for indecent exposure and for failing to notify authorities of his address. That spared Waller from having to check in regularly with a probation agent.

County police determined in September 2006 that Waller had again failed to give an accurate address, and state police said they would declare him an "absconder," which should have triggered an arrest warrant. But no one applied for such a warrant.

Waller in December 2006 was arrested again in an indecent exposure incident in Anne Arundel County, but a District Court commissioner released him to await trial because she was unable to look up his criminal history.

Baltimore Police Detective Ralph Oakes assured the state in May this year that Waller would be incarcerated at a state prison until August 2007, though he had been released in June 2006. City police spokesman Sterling Clifford said yesterday that the mistake was realized the next day, but county police said the correction reached only the state.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Michele Jaklitsch on Oct. 3 threw out the indecent-exposure charge because the alleged victim could not be sure whether the incident occurred in the county or city.

Six days later, a woman was sitting on a bench at the Nursery Road light rail station when a man jammed what she believed to be a gun into her side and dragged her down a hill, through a wooded area and into a clearing, where he raped her, court papers state. Responding officers spotted Waller attempting to flee through the Patapsco River and placed him under arrest, the records indicate.

With rape convictions in 1977 and 1984 for which he served a total of 26 years, Waller should have been listed on the state's public sex offender registry Web site. Offenders in Maryland are removed from the public list if they die, move to another state or go back to prison. But Waller was never placed back on the list.

After Waller's arrest, county and city police disputed who should have been looking for him. (Waller's penchant for giving incorrect addresses and aliases had caused confusion.) County police now acknowledge that they were charged with tracking Waller, because he had last given a Linthicum address.

"If an offender has registered in a certain jurisdiction, that offender stays the responsibility of that jurisdiction until he or she registers in another jurisdiction," Waltemeyer said. He added, "It's clear that, even though we didn't know exactly where he was, he was not forgotten about."

The e-mails, released to The Sun by the county police after a request through the state's Public Information Act, show state and local officials exchanged a flurry of messages in September 2006 in an attempt to find Waller. He had claimed to live at a shuttered men's shelter in East Baltimore.

"I have two detectives looking for Waller right now," Anne Arundel police analyst Sheila Ripley told a state official at one point.

Meanwhile, Waller was arrested about a year ago for the second time in a year in an indecent exposure incident on a light rail car. A Frederick woman identified him as the man who had sat across from her and begun to masturbate.

Waller, who was on probation, gave his name as Bob Green. Through fingerprints, the FBI confirmed Waller's identity, and he was taken to a district court commissioner.

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