People in Santee, worried about the reappearance of a man convicted for making lewd comments to a 12-year-old back in 2013, want to get the word out: He’s back.
The homeless man, 72 years old, returned to Santee this past week.
“I was in shock. I thought it was the end of him three years ago, but it kind of pushed me over the top,” said Breanna Melcher, now 15 years old.
Melcher spotted him just a few hundred yards from Mast Park, which is where he originally approached her with sexually explicit verbal advances.
A stranger sitting nearby noticed her facial expression turn to horror and called 911.
“His comments started getting really bad,” said Melcher who, along with her parents, filed charges leading to an eventual guilty plea for the suspect.
“You can mess with your neighbor, you can mess with whomever, but leave the darn kids alone,” said mom Christine Melcher.
But, because the conviction was a misdemeanor, the Melchers say the suspect’s name was left off the Megan’s Law website for registered sex offenders.
The Melchers were content to move on with life until the man reappeared in this month, causing community uproar.
They blasted his name and face on social media sites and neighborhood forums.
Another teenage girl saw the truck and recognized it as the same one driven by a man who approached her three years ago as well inside the Santee Library.
“She said what he was going to do to her and just really, really nasty stuff,” said Shelley, the teen’s mom who spoke to NBC 7 and opted not to use her last name.
As a convicted criminal, the man is known to sheriff deputies who’ve been instructed to respond to all community calls regarding his presence.
The calls ramped up after pictures of his distinguishable truck and camper made their way onto fliers posted on business windows and doors.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reports that during each encounter, the deputies found no illegal activity or reason for arrest, but encouraged community members to stay vigilant.
A spokesperson for the San Diego County District Attorney says the man “is current on his legal obligations."
While some may wonder at what point a man who served his time and isn’t currently breaking any laws can return to society, the mothers of these two victims feel it’s not worth the risk.
“There’s too many little kids, too many families in this area. He needs to get out of San Diego,” said Shelley.