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Police hold community meeting on sex offender, subject arrested same night
A detective with the county sheriff’s registered sex offender unit urged Islanders last week to be aware but not afraid of a Level 3 sex offender who recently moved to Vashon.
“More importantly, know the people who are supervising your children,” said Det. Michael Luchau at a Thursday meeting at Chautauqua Elementary School. “Most sex offenses are by people we know and we thought we could trust. … Stranger assaults are rare.”
At the meeting, attended by about 60 people, Luchau answered questions about Tracy Nathaniel Morgan, 46, who moved to Vashon late last year after being released from a 10-year prison sentence for manslaughter. A community meeting is required by law whenever a Level 3 offender — considered most likely to reoffend — moves to a new place.
Morgan, who now lives with a family member on the west side of the Island, was convicted of second-degree rape and second-degree assault in 1984, when he sexually assaulted and beat a 12-year-old boy in Benton County, according to court records. He was released from prison in 1994.
Luchau and Lindsay Palmer, with the county’s sexual assault resource center, also gave advice on talking to children about sexual predators and warning signs to look for in adults.
Sean Raybell, a state community corrections officer who is currently supervising Morgan, was also on hand to answer questions. Raybell said the state, which is monitoring Morgan only for his most recent crime, considers Morgan to be a low risk to the community. He said Morgan is living with family, is employed intermittently and looking for steady work and recently completed a chemical dependency program — all factors that make him less likely to reoffend.
“He’s doing pretty well,” Raybell said.
And while Morgan is not allowed to drink alcohol, use drugs or be in a bar, he has no restrictions when it comes to being near children, Raybell said.
“Right now it’s not a condition for him to not have contact with minors,” he said.
“If I see him with a beer, he’s going to jail,” he later added.
In an unexpected turn of events, Morgan was arrested that evening after he was discovered sitting at the Village Green drinking alcohol — a violation of his probation — during the meeting. Sgt. Cindi West, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said Morgan was found drinking underneath the shelter at the park. She noted that it’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol at the park. As of Monday, Morgan was still being held in the King County jail. He was also jailed for 10 days earlier this year, again for a probation violation.
Luchau, who was notified of his arrest during the meeting and shared the information with the audience, said Morgan “might be (in jail) for a little while.”
According to a 1984 article in the Tri-City Herald, Morgan, a Vashon resident at the time, attacked, robbed and threatened to kill two boys, whom the newspaper said were 11, that he met at a Kennewick schoolyard. He then sexually attacked one of them. The article said the crime was called “very sadistic” by a Benton County Superior Court judge.
According to Vashon School District records, Morgan was a Vashon student from 1971, when he started kindergarten, through spring of 1981, when he left school partway through his freshman year of high school.
Morgan was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in 2001, when he was homeless and living in West Seattle. According to King County court records, Morgan admitted to killing a 47-year-old homeless man at Lincoln Park in 2000. According to court documents, Morgan bludgeoned the man to death with a hammer after being involved in a fight with him and hid the body in bushes at the park.
He has also been convicted of multiple adult misdemeanors.
Some at Thursday’s meeting said they were surprised that the county, in its notification about Morgan, didn’t disclose his more recent manslaughter conviction.
“When I found that out later, it made it seem much more worse,” said one woman. “I felt that the notice was not complete. ... It seems like a much more serious thing to have in my neighborhood.”
Luchau said that only convicted sex offenders are required by law to register with the county; the state doesn’t disclose offenders’ other crimes in its notices. Other states, he noted, keep registries for those convicted of violent crimes.
“We don’t know how many murderers or people who have been convicted of manslaughter are on the Island,” Luchau said. “We only know of this one because he’s a registered sex offender.”
Other reactions to Morgan’s presence on the Island were mixed. Some questioned whether they should post Morgan’s photo around town or show it to their children. One woman pointed out that Morgan’s sex offense occurred nearly three decades ago and no re-offenses are known of. Another woman suggested that his more recent crime, against someone he knew, makes him seem even more dangerous.
“He has covered a lot of ground with his crimes,” she said.
Others expressed concern that Morgan has lived on the Island since late last year, yet Islanders were only recently notified of his presence.
Luchau explained that the county didn’t perform a risk assessment on Morgan until he was released from prison last year. Once the county determined him to be a Level 3 offender, notifications were sent out.
The risk assessment, Luchau said, involves extensive research and simply takes time, especially considering the department’s budget constraints. He said it took him months to complete an assessment “because of all the hurdles I have.”