Area residents in the city of Weymouth, Massachusetts, are furious that a convicted sex offender who once was sentenced to 190 years in prison is now living in their community.
Richard Gardner was convicted back in the 1980s and 1990s in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, of kidnapping and rape on a young child.
Last week he walked out of prison a free man.
Former Rhode Island Prosecutor Jeffrey Pine was the man who put Gardner away for the kidnappings and assaults on young boys that landed him the lengthy sentence at the time.
“I think he was dangerous then and I think he's dangerous now,” Pine said. "His conduct was so brazen. He was literally snatching kids off the street. I believe he broke into one of the children's houses and took him out of his bed."
A few years after Gardner's conviction was tossed out on evidentiary claims and through a new trial, he landed a much lighter sentence that allowed him to go free nearly 30 years later, something Pine wasn't expecting.
"You'd like to think that with all those years he would have been locked up longer," Pine said.
That sentiment has prompted residents in Weymouth to start an online petition to strengthen requirements for Level 3 offenders, like Gardner. But until that happens, parents on this street say they'll be on edge and on the lookout for a new face in their neighborhood.
"You cant leave the back door open anymore," said parent of three, James Malary. "You can't be vulnerable, so the level of awareness has been raised and it's very concerning."
Gardner is living with family in Weymouth who have been longtime residents. necn stopped by the home to talk to them about the response they have been receiving but no one came to the door.