CHENEY, Wash. - Students at Eastern Washington University are asked to be on the lookout after several possible sightings of a violent sex offender in the area.
"The initial sightings were not on campus," University Police Chief Tim Walters said. "Once we put out the, what we call 'timely warning' we had some people who called that possibly saw him on campus."
He said they've had three reports of possible sightings of 51-year-old Eric Eugene Hartwell. He's a convicted child rapist wanted out of Colorado for cutting off his GPS bracelet and fleeing the area a week ago. He was last registered at a half-way house in Denver.
"He does have ties to the northwest and he could be in this area," Chief Walters said. "Why he would be here, even if he is, we don't know."
Hartwell's convictions date back to the 90's where he molested his neighbor's 6-year-old daughter in Everett, Washington. A couple years later he picked up a pregnant teen hitch-hiking and attempted to rape her.
Because of these convictions, Hartwell is a level three sex offender and is considered extremely dangerous. For this reason, students, faculty and staff at the university were alerted via email of the possibility. Although none of the reports have been confirmed, law enforcement is taking the case serious.
"We all live in the city limits of Cheney," Chief Walters said. "So we want to make sure our students, faculty and staff that work here are aware of it."
Hartwell is described as a white male adult, approximately 6-feet-2-inches, with blue eyes and blonde hair. He has a tattoo on his right hand. The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a reward for information leading to his capture. Anyone with information can call their tip-line at 1-877-wanted2.
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