Sex Offenders Still Registered at Burned Out Vacant Building

It has been nearly three months, since smoke and flames ravaged a massive apartment building at 270 Laurel Street in Hartford where more than a dozen sex offenders once lived. 

The building was condemned, forcing 56 families including 73 adults and five children out for good.

Those without friends and family to stay with were brought to a local motel by the City of Hartford, including 71-year-old William Yount.

Yount told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters: "My future right now, doesn't hold much of anything because I'm in a wheelchair and I'm a sex offender.  It's very difficult having your name on the list and living a normal life. I can't get a job, I can't get a place to live, they pull your history and say 'oh, you're a sex offender, we don't want to know you!'  It has already happened to me."

Yount and eight other sex offenders have properly registered the motel as their new address on the state's sex offender registry.

But as of Tuesday, 14 other offenders were still listed as residents of 270 Laurel Street.

Stephanie Davis lives on Laurel Street with her pre-teenage daughter.

"I'm really wondering why are they still using that address?," Davis said. "I'm not sure if they're lost in the system because sex offenders have to have an address and they have to be registered wherever they are, right? So, that has me worried."

Davis said she was home the night of the fire on June 6, 2016.

“I never let my daughter out of my sight," Davis told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. "I’m kind of happy it's vacant now."

Sex offender Karl Johnson Jr. told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters off-camera that he reported Laurel Street as his address three weeks after the fire, because he wasn't sure the motel was an acceptable address.

Yount stated that he filled out his paperwork with the proper change of address, as required shortly after moving into the motel.

"I don't have a permanent address. Every 90 days I get a letter from CSP for human safety that I have to fill out and tell them where I live and mail it back to them. You have five days to do it."

Johnson Jr. said he is in touch with his parole officer once a month and is trying to leave his past in the past, like Yount.  

“I did what I did and I'm sorry for it," Yount said. "I learned my lesson in prison. I did nine and a half years and I learned my lesson and I will never ever attempt anything like that again." 

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have repeatedly asked state police for an on camera interview.  They refuse, but a spokesperson tells us by email, “They were given 90 days from the date of the fire to find new permanent residence. Parole continued to monitor them during that time period. Once they obtained permanent residence they notified Sex Offender Registry (SOR) in writing. Those that didn't or haven't notified the SOR are considered not in compliance and are dealt with the same way any other sex offender who doesn't report their permanent address is,” State Trooper Kelly Grant wrote.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters does know one of the sex offenders listed on Laurel Street died of an overdose while staying at the motel.

For all of them who still have to report an updated address, that 90 day deadline is next week.

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