Eric Warren saw the tragedy coming.
The murder victim this time was little Rachel Carver. It could just as easily been someone named Heather or Linda or Jason.
Warren is a veteran Spokane Child Protective Services worker. He’s heartsick at seeing the following recipe for disaster repeated over and over again:
Convicted child abusers living in the same home with defenseless children.
Warren is on a crusade to make this scenario a crime.
He is working with the Washington Attorney General’s Office and the Spokane Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Counsel. His goal is to see legislation passed next session making it a felony for high-risk abusers to have unsupervised contact with children.
“It’s illegal for a convicted felon to have a gun,” he reasons. “So why can’t we make it illegal for someone with a documented history of child offenses to be around kids?”
Sex offenders must register their addresses with the state, but unfortunately there is no law to keep these predators away from minors.
That flaw in the system creates many dangerous situations. When abuse is suspected, social workers can root a pervert out of a home or remove the children. “But we have to build a case and that takes time,” says Warren.
A tough no-contact law, he believes, may have meant the difference between life and death for Rachel.
“I knew this kid,” he says, adding that it wasn’t as a caseworker. “She was cute as a button.”
Social workers could use Warren’s law to put sex offenders back in jail if they’re found living in a household with a child.
The 9-year-old Spokane girl’s body was discovered late Thursday in Riverside State Park.
Her uncle, Jason Wickenhagen, 23, was quickly arrested and charged with Rachel’s death.
The man’s guilt or innocence will be for a jury to determine, but this is beyond dispute:
Wickenhagen - who is waiting to be sentenced on an unrelated sex crime - wasn’t fit company for Rachel or any other child.
He was charged last summer with attempting to rape a 16-yearold girl. According to court documents, Wickenhagen held a gun to the teen’s face, fondled her and demanded sex.
The victim was lucky to escape without being degraded any worse by this creep. In the usual pleabargain deal, Wickenhagen copped to a lesser felony charge of indecent liberties.
The horror for society is that Rachel is not the only dead child who cries for justice from the grave.
Just two months ago, Kenneth Galloway, 27, was charged with murdering Devin Erb, a 2-year-old Spokane boy.
This brute had no business being anywhere near babies. Check out his vile background:
Galloway killed his infant son Kenneth Jamal Galloway in 1990 and was sentenced to six years in prison. A year earlier, he pleaded guilty to abusing his 6-month-old twin sons.
The snuffing out of these two innocent lives graphically demonstrates the need for Warren’s no-contact law.
It will take loud support to overrule the usual bleeding hearts. They will whine that Warren’s idea violates the constitutional rights of poor criminals.
As if monsters who prey on children deserve the same rights as law-abiding citizens.
“Anything we can do to protect a child is worth it,” says John Quinn-Hurst, a certified therapist to sex offenders who is helping Warren draft his plan.
“It just rips our guts out when this kind of thing happens.”
Changing the law certainly won’t bring Rachel Carver or Devin Erb back. But if Warren is right - and his experience tells him he is - it may spare some future young victims.
“We need to realize there are people out in society who shouldn’t be around children without professional supervision,” says Warren.
“The time can’t get any better to sell this badly needed piece of legislation.”