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Tacoma arrests fugitive SK sex offender

In a lost-and-found story rivaling those told about glasses finally found perched atop the searcher’s brow, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department announced late Thursday it had found a missing Level 3 sex offender who was supposed to be living in Olalla.

John Michael Obert, 44, ran off from his Bandix Road home sometime after Aug. 14. His sudden departure was connected to a literally bloody battle he got into with his sister some weeks prior. According to Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson, Obert ended the argument by cracking a partially full wine bottle over his sister’s head.

“She required staples (as a result of the attack),” Wilson said.

Nevertheless, the sister didn’t report the crime to police until shortly before Obert left. Wilson theorizes Obert ran off because he didn’t want to face charges for the assault, especially since he’d already done jail time earlier this year for failing to register as a sex offender when he moved to Kitsap in April.

Wilson said Obert contacted deputies several times by phone in the weeks that followed but never met with them in person.

“He made several promises, made several appointments and stood the detectives up on all of them,” Wilson said. “We only have so much patience.”

Finally, on Wednesday the Sheriff’s Office sent out a press release notifying area media outlets of Obert’s disappearance. They hoped the publicity would lead them to wherever Obert was hiding out.

The irony was, by the time the press release went out, Obert was already in custody. Even more ironically, law enforcement officials already knew where Obert was, long before the first warrant for his arrest or press release was issued.

Police were notified to Obert’s location early in the week after he filled out a lease application for an apartment complex in Tacoma. The apartment’s manager, following standard procedure, sent his application to a screening service for a background and credit check. When the background check showed Obert was a registered Level 3 sex offender, the screening service called police.

Police, via the screening service, advised the apartment manager to call 911 if Obert came back. On Wednesday, he did.

“She slips off into the back room to call 911, and — boom — Tacoma PD shows up,” Wilson said.

After confirming Obert was a wanted man in Kitsap County, Tacoma police booked him into jail Wednesday afternoon — just before the first TV stations started broadcasting news of his disappearance.

Despite the confusion, Wilson is focusing on the upside of the whole messy Obert search.

“We got him,” Wilson pointed out.

Level 3 sex offenders are those judged by Department of Correction officials to have the highest likelihood of re-offending upon their release.

Between 1970 and 1990, Obert molested at least three young girls, all under the age of nine. He was designated a Level 3sex offender because he did not adequately participate in the prison’s sex offender program while incarcerated and failed to make any recommended changes to his behavior.

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