Update below: In April, convicted child molester Richard Carl Heeringa wound up in the number four slot on Denver's list of the top 25 most violent fugitives. Then, in July, Heeringa was added to the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 most wanted list for the entire country. This increased heat appears to have paid dividends: He was captured over the weekend in Michigan.
As we've reported, Heeringa has a shocking history of sexually abusing children. He served a twelve-year jolt in Michigan after being convicted of a sex offense there, and shortly after his 2004 release, he began a relationship with a single mom with a twelve-year-old daughter. He moved in with the pair in Colorado circa 2005, giving him the opportunity to molest the girl for years -- until January 2008, when she finally blew the whistle on him.
Last year, Heeringa was found guilty on seventeen counts, including sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and failing to register as a sex offender -- crimes that could net him as much as 500 years in prison. But the same day the verdict came down -- April 15, 2010 -- he split.
For more than a year, Heeringa was off the radar. Authorities speculated that because he once owned a construction company, he might have sought work as a handyman. In addition, his background as a martial-arts practitioner and hunter suggested that he could survive for a long stretch in the wild -- perhaps in Michigan, where he was born.
Update, 12:06 p.m. November 1: In the wake of today's news conference, the U.S. Marshal's Service has released more details about the capture of Richard Carl Heeringa.
On Saturday, investigators from the service's Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team and officers from the Detroit Police Department were contacted by a local with information about someone on the America's Most Wanted website: Heeringa. The tipster said he'd been living in Detroit for a year under the name Tim Thurman.
Before long, authorities determined that the info was credible and put Thurman/Heeringa's basement residence under surveillance. They moved in around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night and quickly took him into custody. And given the way he skipped out on sentencing last time around, you can bet no bond will be set.
Look below to see a brief report from WKZO-TV, which features an updated mug shot. Below that is a larger look at his previous booking photo.
Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.