Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Omaha registrant murdered

Edited May 23. After a conversation in which I was critical of people jumping to conclusions when, really, very little is known in the Condoluci case, I went back to check my own earlier assumptions. In this blog post, I wrote as if I knew for sure that Fairbanks had written the email even though I don't know that for a fact.

Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Those of us who have seen the criminal justice system in action understand clearly that mistakes are made too frequently for comfort. We must demand a scrupulous adherence to due process in this case because that is what we would demand for ourselves.

I left the blog post as originally written, with this note to explain my error. I did change the title from Omaha man murdered because he was on the registry to Omaha registrant murdered.


This is a big story, not just because reporters must love having something other than the coronavirus to talk about, but because it illuminates the truth about the sex offense registry: It puts registrants and their families in danger and protects no one. It didn't protect Matt Condoluci's 5-year-old victim because Condoluci was not on the registry when he committed that 1994 crime. It didn't protect another victim when Condoluci was on the registry in 2007.

You know who else it didn't protect? Matt Condoluci. From everything we think we know now, he was murdered because he was listed on the registry.

I'm going to recap (with links!) for people who were listening to great music or reading a book instead of following the news over the last couple of days.

Saturday, May 16, 64-year-old Matt Condoluci's body was found at his home at 43rd and Pinkney Street in Omaha NE. Monday, we learned that someone had emailed news outlets claiming to have killed Condoluci because he learned that Condoluci was on the sex offense registry for raping children.

Tuesday, James Fairbanks turned himself in to the police for the murder and stories started flying. Fairbanks' ex-wife said he confessed to her that he had done it; she said he is such a great guy, even the part about him murdering a stranger isn't too bad.

The ex-wife, Kelly Tamayo, a psychologist, explained that in Fairbanks' work as a corrections officer, he...
...may have been driven to kill by working with pedophiles while he was employed by the prison system. ... I think he reflected on his experiences working with them as just bothersome and upsetting because they are repeat offenders, we know them to be people who, you know, who repeatedly act out their intent or they act on their wishes that are to harm children." https://metro.co.uk/2020/05/19/vigilante-shot-child-sex-predator-dead-saw-leering-children-12729140 
To be fair, Tamayo's work is in weight loss and  mental fitness, not in therapy for those who committed sex offenses. She ought to be forgiven for not knowing that repeat offenses are very rare among those on the registry.

Condoluci's daughter was interviewed and she said kids are safer now that her dad is dead.

Reporters did a little work and found that Fairbanks' ex-wife who gave such a glowing report of him had actually taken out two protection orders on him while they were going through a divorce. There is also a report of him threatening to kill a family friend.

Reporters also found Condoluci's son, who said his dad's crimes were a long time ago and his dad had changed since then. He said that Fairbanks didn't know his dad and his dad should not have died the way he did.

In his confession [see my May 23 note above] as represented on the Omaha Scanner webpage, Fairbanks said he "stumbled across" Condoluci's registry information; he agonized about it for days, and came back to kill him. He said he agonized because Condoluci was a child rapist. Never mind that the registry did not report any rape convictions for Condoluci.

Fairbanks goes on to say that he "researched him more" and learned that Condoluci had molested kids in several states. Then he mentions the mother of the 1994 victim and her Facebook group dedicated to letting the world know that Condoluci was a bad, bad man. In a post in the Facebook group, she says, "This preditor preys on single mother's to get his hands on her children. He moves from state to state. He must be stopped." 
The Facebook group was called Matt Condoluci (preditor)

At least, that is what it was called until she renamed it Free James Fairbanks today.

She seems to feel quite strongly about James Fairbanks. On the Free James Fairbanks Facebook page, she says,
I do not believe James was acting as a vigilante. I believe he had seen enough of the wreckage sexual abuse causes and may have felt helpless and "snapped" when he saw what he saw. He is as much a victim as my son and the other children he is not a vigilante. I don't know him but from what I am seening of him he is a good man and may be suffering from PTSD though I'm not a Dr. This man deserves our support. 
This mother endured the death of her son (the 1994 victim) from a drug overdose in 2017 and held Condoluci responsible for that death because of the early molestation. We can certainly sympathize with any parent who endures the death of a child.

Perhaps the fact that both her son and Fairbanks were corrections officers has something to do with her strong support of a man she never met. Perhaps it was just that she wanted Condoluci dead and Fairbanks made that happen. Who knows?

It is surprising that in the area where Fairbanks was looking for an apartment, 96 registrants live within a one mile radius around Condoluci's home, yet Fairbanks picks out the one guy who has a Facebook group dedicated to calling him out as a child molester. 

This story has many twists in it and the news media is making the most of it. News reports love to show the playground equipment in Condoluci's backyard as if it says anything about the man's intentions...as if none of us have rented a home with something in the backyard that is more trouble to move than to leave in place. They like to repeat Fairbanks' fantasy about what Condoluci was thinking while he watched children play. 

They like to explore Condoluci's criminal background as if it has any bearing on why he was murdered by a stranger.

Under all the twists and the lurid imaginings, though, is the truth:
The registry was used to target a law-abiding man for murder.

It is beyond time to acknowledge what the registry does--put people in danger--and abolish the registry.