Update: Earlier this week, we told you about the nationwide search for convicted child rapist Eric Hartwell, who'd escaped from a Denver-area facility after cutting off his ankle monitor.
Earlier today, however, Hartwell was captured -- but not before he put a lot of distance between himself and Colorado. He was taken into custody at a motel in Norfolk, Virginia -- and at first, he wasn't exactly cooperative. Get details in a release from the U.S. Marshals Office, followed by our previous coverage.
U.S. Marshals release:
U.S. Marshals Capture Wanted Sex Offender Eric HARTWELL in Norfolk, VA
DENVER -- Today, just after 0900 hours Mountain Time, The U.S. Marshals Service located and apprehended wanted sex offender Eric HARTWELL at a motel on Military Hwy. in Norfolk, VA. HARTWELL was wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service Colorado Violent Offender Task Force for Violation of Federal Supervised Release and by the Colorado Department of Corrections for Parole Violation.
"We have been relentlessly pursuing HARTWELL, day and night, as he fled across the country," said Chief Deputy Kenneth Deal. "When a dangerous predator is on the loose we don't stop. Public safety is always our main concern."
HARTWELL absconded from a half-way house in Denver and a federal warrant was issued for his arrest on February 23, 2014. Since the warrant was issued, COVOTF investigators aggressively developed and pursued all leads.
When Deputy Marshals learned that HARTWELL had arrived in Virginia, the U.S. Marshals Service in Norfolk, VA, and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Fugitive Task Force quickly developed additional intelligence which indicated HARTWELL was at a motel on Military Highway. Deputy Marshals and Task Force Officers then moved in to attempt to capture HARTWELL. When HARTWELL refused to open the door, it was broken down and HARTWELL was taken into custody without further incident.
The Colorado Violent Offender Task Force is led by the United States Marshals Service and is comprised of officers from several different state and local agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Weld County Sheriff's Office.
Here's our previous coverage about Hartwell.
Original post, 9:50 a.m. February 24: Eric Eugene Hartwell, 51, isn't just any unregistered sex offender.
First, there's the matter of his crimes. He's been convicted of raping a child, age six, and trying to do the same to a pregnant teenager.
He's also shown a lifelong antipathy for letting cops know his location. He's twice cut off ankle monitors for tracking his whereabouts -- most recently a few days ago. And now, tracking him down has become a priority for federal and state law enforcers alike.
Hartwell's page on the Colorado Sex Offenders Registry lists him as a multiple lawbreaker with a history of failing to register, and Colorado is not the only state involved.
His first listed conviction, in 1991, pertains to sexual assault on a child; a 2009 Seattle Times article describes the victim as the six-year-old daughter of his neighbor.
The six-and-a-half-year sentence Hartwell received for this startling incident was reportedly suspended in lieu of him completing a sex-offender treatment program. But the latter didn't take. Also mentioned on the Colorado registry is a 1996 beef for "attempted indecent liberties" -- a legal euphemism for trying to sexually assault a pregnant seventeen year old he picked up hitchhiking.
This time, Hartwell was given four years behind bars -- and upon his release in 2000, the Times notes, he "racked up a series of parole violations and convictions for failing to register as a sex offender." For instance, he went to jail in Washington for a month in 2007 on one such violation, then headed south, over state lines. Later that year, he was nabbed in California.
After being returned to Washington, Hartwell was put back in the hoosgow, this time for 26 months. But no lessons were learned: Upon his March 2009 release, according to a Justice Department press release, he cut off his ankle monitor and raced to Texas.
The U.S. Marshals Service subsequently tracked Hartwell to the Texas town of Carrolton, but when they attempted to apprehend him on the job, he didn't go quietly. The release states that marshals "threatened to tase him, at which point Hartwell lay on the ground. When they tried to handcuff him, Hartwell lunged at one of the deputies. Later, at the federal building in Dallas, he tied to slip out of his restraints, and on his way to be booked, he threatened to assault one of the task force officers."
More time in jail followed -- but this past December 20, Hartwell was paroled. The registry records his address as 2765 South Federal Boulevard -- a building used to house transitioning sex offenders. It's featured in the interactive graphic below; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
But Hartwell didn't stay there long.
Continue for more about at-large sex offender Eric Hartwell, including more photos and a video. According to 7News, Hartwell once again cut off his ankle monitor and vanished late last week.
In 2013, the Colorado Department of Corrections received plenty of criticism when staffers failed to respond for days after another felon, Evan Ebel, removed his ankle monitor and disappeared. Shortly thereafter, Ebel reappeared -- but in headlines, after allegedly killing pizza delivery man Nathan Leon and DOC chief Tom Clements before being gunned down in Texas.
This time around, however, the DOC stresses that Hartwell's actions were noticed quickly, with a search being launched just 22 minutes after his monitor went offline.
Not that the speedy reaction has resulted in his recapture -- and a public alert wasn't sent out until after 7News went live with its story yesterday. Clearly, the process could still stand some improvement.
If you have information about Hartwell, you're encouraged to phone 877-WANTED2 (877-926-8332). Look below to see one more Hartwell mug shot and the 7News report.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa January: "Photos: The ABCs of Denver's unregistered sex offenders."
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