HOWLAND, Ohio (WOOD) — A police chief in Ohio, where a convicted murderer now accused of West Michigan crimes lived for a time, said the man should never have been released from a Pennsylvania prison.
Shawn Jarrett faces charges in the sexual assault of an 85-year-old Grandville woman and he’s suspected of murdering 42-year-old Berta Yolanda Reyes in Walker.
In in the early 1980s, Jarrett was convicted of raping and murdering his 64-year-old neighbor and attacking another woman. He spent 30 years in a Pennsylvania prison and was released on Dec. 31, 2012.
Howland, Ohio — just outside of Warren on the east side of the state — is about 350 miles from Grand Rapids. Paul Monroe, the police chief there, remembers the day he got a call alerting him Jarrett was coming to town.
“I’ve been a police officer for 27 years,” he said. “I’ve never been contacted by a prosecutor from another state warning me of the seriousness and the danger that this or any other individual posed to a community.”
“I was worried,” he added.
Monroe was informed about Jarrett’s previous crimes, in which he targeted older women. The Pennsylvania authority on the other end of the line said he thought Jarrett would likely kill again.
“You sit back and say, ‘Oh, boy. Here it comes. How am I going to deal with this?'” Monroe said.
Jarrett wasn’t on parole and didn’t have to register as a sex offender due to the laws in place at the time of his conviction, so Monroe had to do his own monitoring. He gave his officers Jarrett’s mug shot and beefed up patrols in the neighborhood where he was staying. Officers made repeated attempts to contact Jarrett there, but found only his parents.
“They felt that he deserved a second chance, he wouldn’t be a threat to our community and that he had been rehabilitated,” Monroe recalled Jarrett’s parents saying.
No one in the neighborhood who spoke to 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday said they actually saw Jarrett. It was their understanding he moved away after a couple months.
Chief Monroe later got tip that Jarrett moved to California. After that, he didn’t heard anything until he learned about the allegations here in West Michigan.
“I’m angered by this. I’m disappointed,” Monroe said. “I feel that it’s some what on a failure on the part of our government.”
Monroe said the government needs to look out for the right of the average citizens, not those of criminals like Jarrett.
He said Jarrett is a career criminal.
“We only know about the crimes that he’s been caught committing or suspected committing. You usually don’t catch the guy on his first try,” Monroe said. “How many crimes did he commit that we don’t know about?”
Jarrett’s mom and stepfather have lived in the Howland area for about 10 years. Their lawn is perfect and everything else appeared normal — until last year when Jarrett allegedly moved in.
“I was really shocked. I came up from Missouri and found out that there was an ex-convict living there,” neighbor Walton McCloskey said.
McCloskey and other neighbors on the block said John and Joyce Hugley often help out in the community, taking in neighbors after a fire and dropping off food after funerals.
“John and Joyce are very nice people. You couldn’t want any nicer neighbors,” he said. “They raised some grandchildren. That’s the only people they ever talked about was their grandkids. And this son, I had no idea.”
He said he couldn’t believe people so nice had a son that committed murder.
“You can do all you can as a parent, but when you get on your own, there is not much control you have over them,” McCloskey said.
McCloskey said he feels for his neighbors after hearing of Jarrett’s most recent charges.
“It’s kind of a shame. You figure he’d learn after one time,” he said.