Location unknown: KSL Investigates Utah’s missing sex offenders
Jul 19, 2023, 10:46 PM | Updated: Aug 7, 2023, 9:11 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – A convicted child sex offender on the run and charged with raping a minor in Utah last month is just one of hundreds of Utah sex offenders who are not in compliance with the state’s registry.
36-year-old Christopher Law is charged with two counts of felony rape and sodomy in a case filed in Davis County on June 30.
According to charging documents, he was last seen in Utah by a neighbor who reported seeing Law loading a laundry basket full of clothes into his vehicle. Bountiful Police told the KSL Investigators Law was known to be in the Sacramento, California area on Wednesday, June 12.
There have been no updates on his location since.
More missing offenders
KSL’s investigation into Law revealed a long list of other sex offenders whose location is “unknown” on the Utah’s sex offender registry. As of Wednesday morning, 195 offenders were listed with an unknown location or blank address.
Under Utah code 77-41-105 anyone convicted of a qualifying sex offense in Utah is required by law to provide certain information, including the address of their primary and/or secondary residences, to a police department or other registering entity. That information is required to be updated every 6 months. Failing to register or providing false or incomplete information to the registry is a crime.
Of the 9,590 people listed Wednesday morning on the registry, 451 were flagged as “non-compliant”.
Slipping through the system
KSL’s analysis of the registry found examples of offenders who’ve been slipping through the system, sometimes on repeat.
People like 63-year-old Jerry Serfoss who has pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender at least five times since 2011. In 2021, his guilty plea earned him a sentence of probation. He’s now non-compliant once again, location: unknown.
Willy Brandt, 33, pleaded guilty to sexual battery and lewdness in May of 2023. He was also sentenced to probation and now, just two months later, his location is also unknown.
In July 2021, 36-year-old Roberto Navarro was sentenced to spend one year in jail after he pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Navarro was ordered to self-report to jail the following October. He never did. A warrant has been out for his arrest ever since.
New criminal charges
Of the 195 sex offenders whose location is listed as unknown, 42 have new criminal charges filed against them.
34-year-old David Vargas, a convicted sex offender whose original conviction happened in California, was not in compliance with Utah’s sex offender registry when police say he tried to kidnap two girls in Sandy last summer. A warrant is out for his arrest, and he’s so far failed to appear in court to face two charges of first-degree felony attempted child kidnapping.
39-year-old Glendell Clark’s lifetime sex-offender registry requirement comes from a rape conviction in Louisiana in 2004. In May 2023, he was charged in Utah with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. A warrant is out for his arrest.
Wanted on warrants
Navarro, Vargas and Clark are just three of 101 unaccounted for sex offenders with active warrants. Christopher Law also has a warrant out.
“We do feel he’s a danger to the community and we need assistance in locating and arresting him to bring him into custody,” said Bountiful Police Assistant Chief Dave Edwards in an interview with the KSL Investigators about Law last week. “Give us a location or information so we can locate him and get him into custody before any other crimes are committed.”
Tracking them down
Utah’s Department of Corrections maintains the sex offender registry and is tasked with tracking offenders who are under the supervision of Adult Probation & Parole. A corrections spokesperson told KSL job of keeping track of the rest of the offenders who are not under AP&P supervision is up to the local law enforcement agencies where each offender lives.
Members of the public with information about non-compliant and wanted sex offenders can report tips online through the registry website.
Anyone with information about Christopher Law’s whereabouts is asked to call Bountiful Police at 801-298-6000.
This report is part of a series examining how apparent gaps at every level of Utah’s criminal justice system fail to protect Utahns.
If you have experienced sexual violence, you can access help and resources by calling Utah’s 24-hour Sexual Violence Helpline at 1-888-421-1100. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for free, confidential counseling.
Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.