LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA) — The release of a convicted sex offender has led to warnings from law enforcement officers throughout Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties, informing residents that he may be nearby.
59-year-old Cary Jay Smith was released on Tuesday from a state psychiatric facility after 21 years.
He was first admitted in 1999 after his wife gave authorities a letter she said he wrote detailing sex acts he fantasized about having with a 7-year-old boy.
Smith was required to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to a 1985 misdemeanor sexual offense involving a child. That registration requirement was removed in 2005 for an unknown reason, prompting officials and locals to urge the governor to reinstate it.
For now, Smith is not required to register as a sex offender and was expected to return to living in Orange County.
“We have not been able to get any good answers as to why so we are pushing for the answers to those questions and we are going to push down every conceivable avenue to see if we can get him back on the registry,” said Orange County Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. “Bottom line is this man is a danger to our community, a danger to our kids and he should not be living in our community unsupervised.”
On Saturday, Corona police said he stayed temporarily in the city. On Sunday, Smith checked into a hotel in Lake Elsinore, sparking protests outside the building from outraged locals.
The San Diego Sheriff said later Sunday that Smith was last seen at a North County motel. Just before 9 p.m. on Monday, police in Garden Grove alerted the public that Smith is now residing in the city.
Dangerous sex offender, Cary Jay Smith, recently released from State Mental Hospital is residing in #GardenGrove. We immediately set up a surveillance detail and are continuing to monitor Smith.#GGPD32@CityGardenGrove pic.twitter.com/4WDwsPL5kn
— Garden Grove Police (@GardenGrovePD) July 21, 2020
Garden Grove police said they are monitoring Smith’s whereabouts, despite him not being under formal surveillance as part of his release.
Meanwhile, the mother of one of Smith’s victims, who is now an adult, told CBS2/KCAL9 she is concerned that the pattern of Smith’s relocations matches up with the locations of his victims.
“I was told that at those stops, most of them there was a victim of his in the past that lived in those areas,” Lynn Rinner said. “I don’t know why, does he want to torment us some more?”
As of Monday, more than 21,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding for Smith to be registered again as a sex offender so people will be aware if he is in their community.