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Sex offenders living near parks & daycares

Posted at 10:01 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 13:14:05-04

Concerned parents are reacting to disturbing news about sex offenders after a Four in your Corner investigation finds dozens of them living next to parks, schools and even day cares.

Four in Your Corner investigator Mike Mason uncovered how the authorities don’t always know where these offenders are.

We found most sex offenders and predators listed as living right in Lee County are in the heart of Fort Myers. In many cases they are just yards away from city parks, daycare centers and close to one Lee County elementary school in the Edison Mall area.

In fact, zip code 33901 is the hottest spot for registered sex offenders in Lee County. There are 43 of them listed on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website.

Merlys Munoz has three children who like to play near the Fort Myers golf course on Cleveland Avenue. She became concerned for her children’s safety when Four in your Corner told her that not all sex offenders are currently accounted for. Munoz reacted saying, "I just keep them inside most of the time, it's not healthy but I have to."

A dozen sex offenders are currently listed as being locked up at the Lee County Jail. That’s where 40 year old Maurice Patterson reported his latest address. He was charged with lewd acts on a child under 16 years old. We found he was actually released from jail here and now authorities don't seem to know where he is. He’s suspected of being in Pennsylvania but there is no known address currently listed, despite state law.

That doesn’t seem right to Munoz, who worried, "There should be some way we could know that."

60-year old James Mould listed his address at this Fort Myers detox center but workers there couldn't confirm if he was there or not. When Four in your Corner questioned one of the center’s workers about Mould she told us she wasn’t allowed to comment since, "We can't release any confidential information."

Jeremiah Daly is listed as staying in an apartment complex in a neighborhood that claims to be a "Winkler Safe Neighborhood”. It’s located right next to Winkler Park in central Fort Myers. That's also where we found several children running around completely unsupervised. When we asked where their parents were they told us they had stayed at home. However, what we’ve now uncovered is moving some parents to take action.

When Mason asked Munoz, "Do you let your kids play alone?" she replied, "if we are here, like right now, yes but I won't do it anymore. No, after you told me that, no."  According to Florida law sex offenders are typically not allowed to live within one thousand feet of a school or park but there are exceptions. If you'd like to track sex offenders in your neighborhood click here: https://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/homepage.do