It's time to get missing sex offenders off the street before they strike. “The Abrams Report” hosts a weeklong series “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose,” highlighting some of the most important offenders to alert the public.
In the latest edition, the focus shifts to the mothers of two murdered girls. Erin Runnion and Linda Walker join MSNBC-TV's Dan Abrams to talk about sex offenders and the men who killed their daughters. The show also highlights sexual predators at large in New York.
DAN ABRAMS, 'ABRAMS REPORT' HOST: Samantha Runnion was just 11 days away from her sixth birthday when she was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a man named Alejandro Avila. He's been sentenced to death for those crimes.
Dru Sjodin was a 22-year-old college student when she was abducted and killed. Alfonso Rodriguez, a man with prior convictions for assaulting women is facing trial, accused of kidnapping and murder. Convicted, he too could get the death penalty
What do you think the biggest problem is out there when it comes to these sex offenders?
ERIN RUNNION, SAMANTHA RUNNION'S MOTHER: I think that there's a gross misconception about sex offender crimes. I think most people do not realize how pervasive the problem is. The sex offenders that we have caught are a very small percentage of those that are out there. Statistically, one in four girls and as many as one in six to 10 boys are sex sexually assaulted before they are 18. That's nationwide. This problem is much bigger than I think people are realizing.
ABRAMS: And Linda, I guess we're realizing as we have been highlighting these wanted sex offenders around the country is how many of them are still out there and wanted.
LINDA WALKER, DRU SJODIN'S MOTHER: Currently there's right now over 100,000 that are missing. We know that there's over 500,000 registered. So yes, there's a vast amount that are running through the system. That's of May of 2005 statistic, so we don't know as far as those before that time and date.
ABRAMS: Linda, how much has this changed your life, I mean in addition to the obvious loss of your daughter, but in terms of what you are doing every day with your life. You've really both of you — have devoted much of your lives to this cause now. Linda, why don't you tell me a little bit about what you've been doing?
WALKER: I've been working with Byron Dorgan, the senator from North Dakota, working legislation on what has been called Dru's Law, which we hope will be national sex offender registry database through computer. Obviously, we know that this nation is more and more mobile and they access it — they're able to access cross you know state lines. So I think it's important that people are aware of predators living amongst us, across the country and be vigilant besides leaving the law enforcement the pressure on them.
ABRAMS: Erin, every time I listen to that tape of you talking to your daughter's killer, I get chills. Was it at all cathartic for you to be able to stand across from him?
RUNNION: Definitely. Definitely. I had to say what I said to him. I needed to address him and I feel like I got it off my chest. You know, I hope to never ever see him again. The whole trial process is really built around the defendant and it was very important to me that I bring it back around and make it about Samantha because that's what it was really about.
ABRAMS: Do you watch these other stories in the news and does it just get your blood boiling as you see these cases where someone was on the loose, should have been arrested, could have been arrested et cetera?
RUNNION: You know, the technology is there, so yes, it infuriates me. I can't understand why we're so behind in terms of tracking sex offenders and I really think it's because people don't realize how pervasive it is. There's no reason that there shouldn't be a nationwide movement to stop these people, to have them register at the very least, have them reregister their driver's licenses ever year.
If they don't, they go on a most wanted list. It's made public nationwide, at the very least every state could do that. It adds to state revenue. It doesn't take away. It's a good way to track them.
ABRAMS: Linda, are you psychologically prepared for this trial? I mean you know you can tell from seeing Erin on that tape that it's not easy stuff I mean to sit there next to these guys.
WALKER: You know it's just another part of this whole horrific story. There's no script for it. I don't know if anyone could ever be prepared. Obviously, it's something that we look to have it put behind us so we can really draw more on what Dru gave us in her life and now how tragically she was taken from us.
ABRAMS: And also, I have to say that what both of you are doing in working with legislators to move forward, to not just say we're going to only look past what both of you were doing and that's why we're so glad and proud to have you both on the program. It's because of what both of you were doing to have things change.
WALKER: Well and also, thanks goes to you and the media to help us.
WALKER: Obviously, we couldn't scream loud enough to bring the attention, so our hat is off to all of you as well.
RUNNION: Absolutely. It's so important that people realize at home that in our own homes, in our own lives, we can work to prevent these crimes. It is really just about communicating with your neighbors, communicating with your children, getting a watch going in your community, talking. Report every suspicious behavior there is. You never know. It leads to convictions time and time again later down the road.
SEX OFFENDERS WANTED IN NEW YORK
Thomas Meddaugh is a 50-year-old white male, 5-foot 7, 168 pounds with scars near his left eyebrow and shoulder, his neck and abdomen. He has got a prior conviction for rape and his current offense involved deviant sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He's considered armed and dangerous.
Francisco Paulino is a 46-year-old Hispanic male, 5-foot 9, 140. No scars or tattoos that they know of. He does have a prior conviction for the knifepoint rape of a 14-year-old girl. He's violated his parole. He's wanted.
Dion Bryant, 24-year-old black male, standing 5-foot 6, 156. Convicted for attempted rape, three under aged girls involved. He too has violated his patrol, wanted.
Anyone with information about their whereabouts should call New York's 100 most wanted tip line, 1-800-262-4321 and keep in mind that these guys really may be dangerous.
Watch the for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.