Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

By Karen Morfitt

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The man accused in the murder of a young mother has been charged with more crimes in connection to her death.

Jeffrey Etheridge has been accused in the rape as well as murder of Helena Hoffman, whose body was found in Sheldon Lake at City Park on June 21.

etheridge jeffrey Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

Jeffrey Etheridge (credit: Fort Collins Police Services)

Etheridge, 27, appeared in court on Friday where he was charged with kidnapping and sexual assault charges in addition to the murder charges filed last month.

Zach Denton spoke with CBS4 after learning of Etheridge’s arrest; he shares a 4-year-old daughter with Hoffman

ft collins body in lake 5pkg frame 1963 Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

CBS4’s Andrea Flores interviews Zach Denton (credit: CBS)

“She walked that park every single day she must have walked it a couple 100 times… she knew it like the back of her hand,” he said.

Etheridge was convicted out-of-state for possessing child pornography. He was required to register as a sex offender in Fort Collins.

heather helena hoffmann Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

Heather Helena Hoffmann (credit: Fort Collins Police Services)

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation oversees the state sex offender registry.

“There’s approximately 18,000 registered sex offenders in the State of Colorado, so of that 18,000 there are about 900 of those that are homeless or transient,” Medina said.

fort collins body in lake 5vo transfer frame 830 Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

(credit: CBS)

Without a permanent address, Etheridge, under Colorado law was allowed to list himself as transient.

Etheridge was ultimately allowed to roam the Fort Collins area freely, making it difficult for law enforcement to track.

fort collins body in lake 10pkg transfer frame 698 Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

(credit: CBS)

“If somebody is transient they say they may be in this area but they are not really going to be there, they’re transient as the word denotes they’re going to move from place to place,” she said.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith sounded off on the issue.

justin smith Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith (credit: CBS)

On his Facebook page, he called the murder of Hoffman inexcusable and urged the community to demand change in policy.

Medina says as an agency, they see the frustration.

fort collins body in lake 5vo transfer frame 193 Transient Charged With Sexual Assault, Kidnapping In Connection To Murder

(credit: CBS)

“This is a very challenging issue and so I think we are trying to determine ways we can increase the verification of address or locations to help in the process but it is challenging,” Medina said.

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Vicki Burton says:

    Registrants need three things to successfully reintegrate into society; a job, place to live and a “positive” support system. The state laws and restrictions prevent that.

    According to the NCMEC map there are over 861,837 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bate-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) young guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

    If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 2 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant….all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals state are needed for successful re-integration; a job, a place to live and a good support system. Residency restrictions, ranging from 500 ft to 2,500 ft are ludicrous and not supported by ATSA.

    The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

    It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12 page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
    ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the actual facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015.
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=2616429

    A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:
    a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
    b) 34.2% were family members;
    c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
    d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
    e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victims own home;
    f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

    The public needs to decide if they want to continue to focus on those who, for the most part, are one time offenders or if they see a greater need to fund programs like “Stop It Now” that teaches about grooming behaviors and other things in their Circles of Safety.

    Women Against Registry ~ Fighting the Destruction of Families

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