Your story about soon-to-be-released sex offender, Gregory Gabert (March 28 issue), is an example of what should happen when police and justice agencies work together and are transparent in their actions. Nevertheless and not long ago, a local man charged with sex crimes against children seemingly fell through the cracks with tragic results.
In May 2018, Anako Lumumba was murdered in her South Burlington home. The suspect, Leroy Headley, fled and has evaded capture. At the time of the murder, Headley was free on “community release” awaiting trial for sexual assault. It’s alleged that in October 2016, Headley lured two 13-year-old girls to a hotel. In his hotel room, he gave them liquor and sexually assaulted them. One of the girls recorded the event. Based on this recording, police arrested Headley in March 2017 for sexual assault. Headley was released from jail after a weekend. From newspaper reports, Judge Crucitti released Headley with minimal conditions.
In most of America, child molesters are held in jail pending court “as dangers to the community.” On occasions when they are released on “conditions.” the conditions are strict. Examples include home confinement, GPS monitoring, frequent drug/alcohol tests, monitoring the released person by a court officers, no possession of weapons and the accused is required to remain “law abiding.” In Chittenden County, child predators are released and told to stay away from children.
Between the time of Headley’s release and the murder, Headley had at least two run-ins with the police. Ms. Lumumba reported that Headley threatened her and that he had firearms. Either of these two complaints should have triggered Headley going back to court for reconsideration of release conditions. Again, in most of America, Headley would have returned to custody until the sexual assault charges were resolved.
There are many questions for the court, the state’s attorney, and the police. Specifically, whose job is it to monitor people “on release?” What does it take to revoke a court-ordered release? Is there a mechanism or protocol in place to allow the police to initiate revocation of release? If so, did the prosecutors support or hinder this effort? If no mechanism exists, why? What criteria does the Court use to make custody decisions? What procedures, if any, have changed since the murder?
To the courts, police and prosecutors, please tell us what went wrong in this tragedy.