A registered sex offender who violated a condition of his parole was arrested by officers from the sheriff’s Ramona Substation last week, and on Monday he was transferred from county jail to state prison, said sheriff’s Lt. Duncan Fraser.
James Maurer, 47, was arrested April 13 at the Highland Valley Christmas Tree Farm at 18425 Highland Valley Road, where he was living in a cottage, after a sheriff’s deputy and a state parole official learned he was using computers and had a Facebook page. One of the conditions of Maurer’s parole was that he not have computers or have access to computers, said sheriff’s Detective Barbara Crozier in Ramona, adding that the officers confiscated three computers he had been using.
When sheriff’s officials had checked on Maurer earlier in the year, he was complying with conditions of his parole, said Crozier.
After area residents learned that Poway teenager Chelsea King, who went missing in late February, had been raped and murdered by a registered sex offender, they checked the state’s Megan’s Law site online for possible offenders and found Maurer on the list. Concerned because there was a school bus stop at the end of the driveway to the farm and he was living less than 2 miles from Mount Woodson Elementary School and in a rural area where children play, they called the sheriff’s department. Due to a miscommunication, it was not until a neighbor found Maurer on Facebook that “things moved very rapidly,” said one of the neighbors.
Fraser is not sure what the miscommunication was, but, once he learned of the situation, “we picked up the ball, we dusted the ball off, we ran with it...and we got the guy where he belongs.”
“There’s no gray area here,” said Fraser. “If you’re told you can’t have a computer and you have one, you go to prison. It was a flagrant violation of his parole. He’s going back to state prison.”
Neighbors involved in contacting the county sheriff and probation departments, the state parole department and Maurer’s parole officer declined to provide their names for fear of retaliation.
“All’s well that ends well,” said one woman, who complimented Fraser and the school district for their quick action.
When the school district was contacted, it eliminated the bus stop at Highland Valley and Handlebar roads, and moved it to Whirlwind Lane and Highland Valley Road.
The initial miscommunication may have been the person the caller was referred to, the question asked, a lack of awareness of the difference between county probation and state parole, or something else. Whatever happened, the neighbors are pleased with the result, and Fraser, who has a strong background in family protection, is the one the public will now be talking to with questions about the Megan’s Law website and registered sex offenders.
“I want to make sure that the people talk to me and then I can give them as much good information as there is to be given,” said Fraser, a Ramona resident.
In the 92065 ZIP code, which includes all of Ramona, there are 21 people on the Megan’s Law website, Fraser said Monday.
Anyone wishing more information may contact Fraser at 760-789-9157.