Police look at five sex offenders near Tuders
Tabitha Tuders, 13, has been missing from her east Nashville home since April 29.
By IAN DEMSKY, SHEILA BURKE
and CHRISTIAN BOTTORFF
Some are ruled out in missing-girl case
At least five registered sex offenders live within a mile of missing teenager Tabitha Tuders' east Nashville home, a Tennessean investigation found.
Some of the offenders have not been cleared as suspects in the 13-year-old girl's disappearance, police said yesterday.
Debra Tuders, Tabitha's mother, said yesterday that she had no idea the sex offenders lived in her neighborhood and that she was concerned that they had not all been ruled out in her daughter's disappearance.
''We have investigatively checked many of those persons out,'' Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said. ''Some have been eliminated from the investigation. Some, for various reasons, have not been eliminated from the investigation.''
The Tennessean used computer software to map the location of sex offenders in relation to the Tuders' Lillian Street home.
The sex offender data used by The Tennessean was obtained from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and is current as of June 11.
The same information also is available at the TBI's Web site (www.tbi.state.tn.us). However, none of the data includes those convicted before 1997.
The software found five sex offenders living within one mile of the Tuders' home. The closest one was 739 feet away.
Debra Tuders said she last spoke with police on Tuesday.
''It's still the same,'' she said of the search for her daughter. ''They search all the leads and they don't pan out.''
The family usually talks with the police every two days, she said, and has tried to hold on to hope that Tabitha will be found safe.
''We're doing OK,'' she said.
''We have our good days and our bad days.
''We're not going to give up hope that she's going to come back safe.''
Federal statistics show that sex offenders often commit the same crimes again.
Released rapists are more than 10 times as likely as non-rapists to commit rape, according to a 1997 report released by the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the report, those convicted of sexual assault are more than seven times as likely to be arrested for a new sexual assault as other criminals.
The five offenders who live near the Tuders home were convicted of sexual battery, sexual battery by an authority figure, statutory rape and rape.
Yesterday, Metro police talked to a possible suspect in Memphis. Investigators did not release details about the man or say why police wanted to talk to him.
At the request of Metro police, he was picked up and interviewed by Memphis officers.
Metro police also interviewed him over the telephone, Aaron said.
''At this point, the lead that produced his name is not going to be a good lead for this investigation,'' Aaron said yesterday. ''It is not entirely ruled out, but based on interviews today, it does not look like it's going to pan out.''
Police have classified Tabitha as a missing person and say there is no credible evidence that she was abducted or is a runaway.
Her family always has maintained that the girl has never run away from home before and would not do so.
© Copyright 2003 The Tennessean
A Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper