Predatory Sex Offender Concerns Aired

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, January 25 2013 at 2:29 PM, Updated: Fri, January 25 2013 at 2:39 PM

Release of a predatory sex offender into their neighborhood has some Klamath Falls residents up in arms...

Debi Winchell is a mother of five, and she was shocked to learn that predatory sex offender Johnny Ray Thomas is now her neighbor...

"When I saw it, I literally was covered in goosebumps - because it's a scary thought to think that this could happen to my own child, and I don't want it to happen to anybody's child."

Joann Ring was one of about 50 people who attended a community meeting Thursday night to express their concerns about Thomas...

"Well, his address is three houses down from mine.  I have a six year old granddaughter who's at my house almost every day."

A GPS ankle bracelet monitors all of Thomas' movements...and corrections officials stress they're doing all they can to track him.

"I wouldn't want to be on the short leash that he is."  Noted Klamath Falls Police Chief Jim Hunter.  "He really has no privacy."

State law says that all felons must be released to their county of conviction upon release from prison. 

Notifications were handed out door to door on Wednesday.

Debi Winchell says she's thankful for the notification...

"I was extremely excited to see that our law enforcement and probation department got the information out to us."

But, that doesn't make Joann Ring feel any safer...

"I think that he should just be sent somewhere totally away from anybody."

Klamath Falls Police say they'll be doing extra patrols in the neighborhood...and residents say they're now interested in forming a 'neighborhood watch' group.


About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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