EDWARDSVILLE, Kan. -- An Edwardsville community is outraged after a group of men, some convicted of sex offenses and violent crimes, moved into a house in their family-friendly neighborhood without warning.
Dozens of people shared their concerns Monday night during public comment at the Edwardsville City Council meeting – calling the home a “halfway house” that poses a risk to their children.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation records show these four felons live inside the house on South 6th Street:
• Daniel Osbourne Eaton, Jr. – convicted of intentional second-degree murder
• Matthew Dean Edwards – convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child; lewd fondling or touching
• Charles Kevin Gibson – convicted of rape; sexual intercourse with a person who does not consent; force
• Daniel Robert Poole – convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child
Neighbors told FOX 4 the men moved in together about a month ago as part of a re-entry program.
The house is owned by High Way Ministries LLC, an organization that works with the Department of Corrections’ Mentoring4Success program, which helps offenders re-enter society after being released from prison.
High Way Ministries LLC is registered with the Kansas Security of State as a “Kansas LTD Liability Company”. Online records show it was registered by a man who lives in Olathe, and that its status is “active and in good standing.”
But the people who live near the home said they were never notified that a so-called halfway house would pop up beside theirs, and they just don’t feel safe living so close to people convicted of sex and violent crimes.
“I realize that these people have to have a place to live too,” said Jennifer Radcliff, “but I don’t think that the right place to put somebody who is a convicted child molester, a convicted rapist, a convicted murderer, is in a neighborhood full of children.”
Belinda Dvorak agreed, “I just have a big concern about those types of felons,” she said. “Those crimes can be committed, there’s a big chance they can be committed again.”
“I believe they should have to move,” she continued. “I don’t believe that’s the proper neighborhood for that sort of home to be in, it’s a halfway house. There are plenty of neighborhoods where no children live and I believe that would be better suitable.”
Edwardsville City Mike Webb told FOX 4 that city leaders are aware of the complaints, and they are currently reviewing town ordinances and codes, as well as state statutes and regulations, to see if this home is violating any rules. But so far – they’ve found nothing.
The founder of High Way Ministries LLC, Steven Wade, did not come to Monday night’s City Council meeting; but FOX 4 spoke with him on the phone.
Wade said he understands everyone’s concerns and he has been in contact with Edwardsville police and City Council, and the Kansas Department of Corrections. He said he plans to attend future meetings if the issue is placed on the agenda for discussion.
But Wade hopes people also come understand, “these men made a mistake, paid the price and have committed themselves to making a positive change and having a peaceful existence within the community.”