Two convicted rapists have absconded from Twin Cities halfway houses in the last week and are being pursued by a team of investigators from the Department of Corrections, state authorities disclosed Thursday.
The men are registered as Level 3 sex offenders, meaning they are considered extremely dangerous and among those most likely to re-offend. Corrections officials Thursday were not able to explain the circumstances of their disappearance from intensive supervision.
Authorities said convicted child rapist Eugene P. Glaraton, 42, cut off his electronic ankle bracelet on Sunday, four days after his release from a prison in Lino Lakes, and disappeared from a halfway house in St. Paul. He had been serving time for failing to register as an offender, his second such conviction since 2007. He was convicted in 1987 of raping and fondling a 15-year old boy.
In an unrelated case, Jack P. Frazier, 30, escaped Feb. 17 from a halfway house in Hennepin County, authorities said. The St. Paul man has a 2003 conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, state records show.
The abrupt disclosures raise new questions about flaws in the state's ability to monitor dangerous offenders who have been granted supervised release from state facilities.
On Sunday the Star Tribune reported that a fugitive psychiatric patient with a violent history was on the loose across Minnesota for 10 months last year -- avoiding arrest and terrorizing a Wisconsin woman -- because of a breakdown in state and local efforts to track his whereabouts. Sources have also told the Star Tribune that the state is considering, for the first time in 15 years, a recommendation of supervised release for two violent sex offenders now under secure civil commitment.
Another offender disappears
Authorities also disclosed Thursday that a third Level 3 offender, Francisco Chapa, has been missing since April 2000 after he disappeared from a residence in Blue Earth County. Chapa, who has a history of sexual contact with girls, was sentenced in 1998 in Martin County for assault and inflicting substantial injury.
About 235 Level 3 offenders are living in communities across Minnesota, 99 of them under direct supervision of the Corrections Department, officials said.
A legislator is alarmed
Thursday's events triggered new questions from lawmakers who are under intense pressure to assure the public that such offenders can be properly monitored.
On Thursday, Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, wrote the commissioners of Corrections and Human Services, as well as Attorney General Lori Swanson, expressing concern over the state's ability to track violent people under their jurisdiction. His district includes the Minnesota Security Hospital and a branch of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
"Changes are needed with regard to tracking -- and apprehension, if required -- of patients released from state facilities,'' Morrow wrote.
A Corrections spokesperson said Thursday that it has five officers assigned specifically to search the streets for fugitives. In addition, a special investigations unit has 10 intelligence investigators and a Level 3 analyst who assist the field officers.
In 2010 the department issued 91 warrants for Level 3 offenders who either violated their release provisions or absconded -- and 89 were apprehended within 72 hours, a spokesperson said.
Last year, a Star Tribune series documented that scores of offenders on release continue to violate their release provisions, in part because of fault lines in state laws. The newspaper reported that nearly 1,800 criminals, from violent felons to perpetrators of white collar fraud, become fugitives from Minnesota's supervised-release system each year.
Corrections officials warned Thursday that the missing sex offenders should not be confronted if they are spotted. Instead, anyone with information about their whereabouts should call 911 or the department's 24-hour tip line at 651-603-0026.