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Jessica Heeringa abduction: Police scour sex offender registry

6:28 PM, Apr 30, 2013   |    comments
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Jessica Heeringa

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WZZM) -- In the search for Jessica Heeringa, investigators are checking and rechecking police reports as well as the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

Norton Shores Police Chief Daniel Shaw says the minute police started putting evidence together about Heeringa's disappearance, they turned from the Exxon Mobile gas station, to their computers.

Shaw says in abduction cases, it makes sense to scour the list.

"We have access to vehicles registered to that person's name and plates," said Shaw.

State law requires sex offenders to register four times per year. According to the registry, there are 11 sex offenders in Norton Shores; three men fit at least three of the characteristics police are looking for in the Heeringa abduction case, and four live within a two-mile radius of the Exxon Mobil gas station.

If the search is broadened to nearby Muskegon, 82 people are on the sex offender registry and 10 fit at least three characteristics.

"The registry is sorted by zip code, that's what's hardest for us," said Chief Shaw.

But Chief Shaw says investigators are now searching state and even region wide.

"If we're going to do it, do it right," he said.

Chief Shaw says the biggest hurdle with the sex offender registry is offenders who don't re-register.

"And verify the vehicle is registered to them, cell phone, Facebook accounts.

He says he can only think of a few times in Norton Shores where someone on the registry has re-offended, but he points to cases around the country where it has happened.

You can search the Michigan Sex Offender Registry (http://bit.ly/PwICn) to find if offenders are living on your street or nearby.

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