GPS backs up sex offender's claim he killed 13-year-old in Hazel Dell
A GPS tracking unit that a homeless sex offender is required to wear corroborates his story that he killed a 13-year-old girl in a Hazel Dell field, investigators said Tuesday.
The Associated Press
A GPS tracking unit that a homeless sex offender is required to wear corroborates his story that he killed a 13-year-old girl in a Southwest Washington field, investigators said Tuesday.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Clark County Superior Court, Darrin Eugene Sanford was being monitored by the state Department of Corrections, and the ankle bracelet shows he was in the field, in Hazel Dell near Vancouver, when Alycia Nipp was killed Saturday night.
Detectives investigating the case identified Sanford, 30, based on descriptions provided by people who had seen him in the area. The affidavit says that when detectives questioned Sanford, he admitted to the slaying. He told detectives he met the girl near some vacant homes and walked with her into the field, where he tried to have sex with her.
"Sanford said that he wasn't able to complete the sexual act and after she 'giggled at him' that he was overcome with a violent rage," Detective Rick Buckner wrote in the affidavit.
The man didn't recall what he hit her with — a knife, stick or beer bottle. An autopsy determined she was stabbed to death.
Later that evening, Sanford moved the body to an area where the girl would be found, Buckner wrote.
Nipp was a seventh-grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Vancouver, and was taking a shortcut across a vacant field in the Vancouver suburb Saturday night when she was accosted. She had been out walking the neighborhood with friends at the time.
Her mother reported her missing, and her stepfather found the body at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. There were no apparent signs of sexual abuse.
Sanford, who is being held without bail for investigation of aggravated first-degree murder, made an initial court appearance Tuesday and was appointed an attorney, Michael Foister, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Sanford was arrested Monday after giving an interview to reporters in which he said he hadn't seen any suspicious activity in the area on Saturday.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor John Fairgrieve said he expected to file a formal charge Thursday.
Department of Corrections records show Sanford as a Level III sex offender — the category considered most likely to re-offend — and that in Clark County in 1998 he was convicted of luring and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
He served about eight months for that offense, and was later arrested for failing to register as a sex offender — a crime that earned him 17 more months, said Armando Mendoza, the Corrections Department's southwest regional administrator.
He was released from the state prison at Walla Walla last July 31 and since then had been complying with requirements that he visit daily with his community corrections officer and pay court-ordered fines and fees, said Mendoza and Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis. He even checked in with his officer on Monday morning, before his arrest later that day.
He had passed his drug tests and there was no indication he had tried to tamper with his GPS ankle bracelet, they said. On Saturday, he visited his sister's house, where he wasn't supposed to go because children live there.
Not all sex offenders are on such monitoring, but they may be if they are homeless or unemployed, or if they've previously violated the conditions of their release. The Corrections Department does not have the manpower to monitor their locations in real time, but officers typically review the data the next business day.
"This is one of the ways GPS is supposed to work," Lewis said.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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