Aliahna LemmonThere are about 24 occupied homes in the ramshackle Indiana trailer park where Tarah Souders relocated with her three little girls. Her father was dying of emphysema and she moved into his home to care for him in his last days. But she was nervous about the new neighborhood.

Rightfully so. Inside that small community, 15 registered sex offenders are residents. Fifteen sexual deviants within the space of two dozen houses was a tragedy waiting to happen.

And it did. Aliahna Lemmon, Souders’ 9-year-old daughter, was attacked by a neighbor, Michael Plumadore, who hit the child in the head with a brick three days before Christmas, dismembered her body, and hid her head, hands, and feet in her grandfather’s freezer.

Hindsight is crystal clear, but moving into an area literally brimming with men who have a history of preying on kids is dangerous. Apparently, trailer parks are hideouts and incubators for sex offenders. 

Although that animal—and anyone who can execute such a gruesome and cold-blooded offense against a child is an animal—isn’t a sex offender himself, he was in criminal company. According to an article in USA Today, sex offenders congregate in trailer parks because they’re refuges for people who are generally outlaws, either because they’re on the lam, running from outstanding charges or unable to function normally in society because of previous convictions.  

Ninety-nine percent of residential housing is off-limits to registered sex offenders. You know folks will run them out of their communities in a heartbeat as soon as they get wind that they’re moving in. That limitation forces them into little enclaves where they gather together, usually with other criminals, to scratch out an existence. Poverty only exacerbates the conditions.  

But I think any mom considering a move anywhere in any neighborhood would be smart to check out the sex offender registry before committing her family to a new home. It doesn’t matter if you have daughters or sons. There’s a sicko out there for every gender, so there’s no breathing easier for one than the other, as far as I’m concerned. 

I’m certainly not blaming Souders for not being proactive enough. Heck, her own father was one of the 15 offenders in that trailer park. But for every tragedy, there’s a lesson, even if it’s a hard learned one. And in this case, I think the message is to go with your gut feeling, since she was originally leery of the safety of her kids, and to research more than the property taxes and school quality when you’re planning a move, even in an emergency.

I never checked the sex registry until after I got settled in my apartment, but best believe I’ll do it before I transition to a house. Did check where you live before you moved?


Image via T.M. Photography/Flickr