OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Detectives with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office recently conducted checks on the hundreds of sex offenders and predators in the county and found dozens of them are still breaking the law.
When members of the sex offender and predator unit checked up on all 550 offenders and predators living in Osceola County, they didn’t just check addresses, they checked everything.
Detective Michelle Keefer called it a “deep dive.”
“Residency, driver’s license, phone number, employment, social media, internet sites,” Keefer said.
Keefer is one of two detectives who spent seven months working six days a week to thoroughly research all offenders.
Offenders and predators are required to register with the Sheriff's Office many personal details, including email accounts and usernames.
"They have to report the vehicle they own, if they work, their phone number, social media accounts," Keefer said.
Keefer and her partner verified every detail to make sure offenders and predators are staying away from children.
“They’re not allowed to work at any kind of schools. If they’re a contractor -- like an AC tech can’t go to any of the schools,” Keefer said. “These people are sex offenders. A lot of them have child pornography convictions, traveling to meet a minor. We’re really concerned if they’re back on the internet.”
Keefer said 67 offenders and predators were violating the terms of their release or probation.
Some didn’t register addresses. Some were downloading child pornography. Some were working where they shouldn’t be.
"Some are very deceptive on purpose, and the other ones just don't think we're ever going to check on them," Keefer said. "It was a lesson, a hard lesson for some."
Some were convicted of the violations and sent to prison. Keefer submitted four offenders for federal prosecution.
Not registering a residential address or internet address is a third-degree felony.
"I think we got some awesome results," Keefer said. "I think the other sex offenders realize we're watching them and that's half the battle. And the ones that still don't care, we'll get to them."
The U.S. Marshals Service paid for the overtime for the detectives and lent its research capabilities.
This was the second joint operation between the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Office. The first was in 2017, when the sex offender and predator unit arrested 40 noncompliant offenders.