Monday, March 9, 2009

A Heart-Wrenching Tragedy; A Massive Breakdown

The brutal and horrific murder over the weekend of Esme Kenney as she jogged in her own neighborhood has made all of us sick and deeply sad since we heard the news. Our prayers go out to her family, friends and classmates as they all grieve and come to grips with this terrible event. I know parents across our community are especially unnerved by this horrible incident, as am I.

The family has asked that people make a donation in Esme’s name to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at Also, anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.

While the accused killer is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, if it turns out that he did do what he is charged with, it will represent a massive breakdown in a system that is supposed to protect citizens, and in children in particular, from predators, but clearly failed to do so.

How a man with his record of being an aggressive predator (and killer) was allowed to get out of the state system only six months after being convicted of soliciting and exposing himself to a 13-year old (in 1997), and thereafter to slip through the cracks of the parole/rehabilitation system that is supposed to monitor predators such as him, is something that must be investigated, understood and responded to immediately.

Even with the overcrowded County jail, our County court and criminal justice system had the good sense to keep him locked up for the entire pre-trial period for his 2007 offense. They clearly knew he was an imminent danger who should not be allowed in the community. Why, after the County handed him off to the state to serve his felony sentence, the "system" and all the money invested in it couldn't figure out that this person was a ticking time bomb, and treat him accordingly, is incomprehensible.

Every stage of this predator's journey through the courts, jails, parole and "rehabilitation" process should be scrutinized to see how the "system" failed, and how it must be immediately fixed.


Anonymous said...

I don't have any idea what the answers to my question are, but:
Wasn't the police supposed to be monitoring his whereabouts just as much as the parole authorities?
And, as more info becomes available, it seems this man has been on a killing spree - a serial murderer - how could police never have connected the dots between all the "burnt" bodies - isn't that called an "MO"?

Anonymous said...

Commissioner Pepper?

Can you provide a "map" or diagram of what factors come into play, what happens when a person convicted of a sex crime is released from prison (Ohio or elsewhere)on basis of their being classified in one of the categories associated with "sexual predator"?

This would help explain the roles of the policing authorities (Sheriff/Police), case managers, social service agencies, job providers/employers and into the neighborhoods where there are now ways to circumnavigate telling a neighborhood that a sexual predator has moved into a community.

For instance, do you know how an address gets onto a site to let folks know where a sp is living; who posts that for the sp? The SP, Police, Sheriff, Case worker?

Diagram could help.


Brian Lee said...

I think you mean 2007, not 1997. And he was not convicted of "soliciting and exposing himself to a 13-year old." He was convicted of importuning as it related to a fourteen-year-old girl in 2008, with a 2007 case number (B-0708815). The reason he got "out of the state system only six months after being convicted" was that importuning is an F5. He got the maximum 12 months, but got credit for 145 days for the time he was in jail awaiting trial.

The rest of it--monitoring predators--is a resource issue. And one I hope that you find a way to address. If the city and county cannot do anything about the state dumping predators here from elsewhere (let alone returning our native predators to their original hunting ground), then the city and the county should step up to protect the community.

David Pepper said...

Thanks for your added details, Brian. I mistyped 1997.

But I have to say, every time there is a problem in the criminal justice system, someone says it's a "resource issue." In some cases, it may be true. But we already spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on our city, state and county criminal justice systems. You would hope that from those dollars, having a system that keeps an eye on the worst kind of predators such as this person--with a record that he had--would be part of what the taxpayers are already paying for. If that's not part of the price tag we're already paying, then there's a real problem with priorities.

We will look into every step of this case with a fine tooth comb, but as we do, I think the real problem on a case such as this will turn out to be basic coordination and communication, management, common sense and people doing their job.

Brian Lee said...


I didn't mean necessarily that we need more resources. Maybe we do, that's not my area. But figuring out how to protect the citizens of the county with what we have is a top priority.

BTW-Neither this comment or the one before is (or was) intended to imply that you don't think this is true. As a crime victim yourself, I am pretty sure that is not the case.

David Pepper said...

I understand, and appreciate both your comments. Public safety is clearly our top budget priority, taking up about 70% of our budget.

My point is that I think taxpayers hate to hear, every time there's a problem of any type (management, communication, common sense, a screw-up), that if they only paid more money, the problem wouldn't have happened.

In some cases, that may indeed be the case. But in many other cases, I believe, the problem is elsewhere.

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