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Couple mistaken for sex offenders when their address appears on registry

May 3, 1997

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The neighborhood was friendly to new tenants Mike and Jody Lumpkins, until state officials last week mistakenly identified their trailer as the home of a convicted sex offender.

A printout of the sex offender registry was tacked to a nearby mailbox. Children began teasing their daughters. Rocks were thrown at the trailer.

``Kids walking by would say to me, `My parents told me not to talk to you because you’re a sexual offender,‴ Mike Lumpkins said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says it was an easy mistake to make. The trailer was the home of a convicted offender, 44-year-old Dennis Cox, but he had moved out before the Lumpkins and their two daughters moved in and did not tell anyone.

A 1994 federal law required states to establish registries of convicted sexual predators and child molesters. A followup federal law that would require states to tell a community ``whenever a dangerous sexual predator enters its midst″ is planned. The push came in 1994, after the rape-killing of 7-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey.

The KBI first said there was no problem, since Lumpkins’ name was not listed on its online registry. But the list also includes addresses.

His address was removed Thursday after the agency determined Cox was serving a prison sentence in Nebraska.

``All we can do is apologize,″ said Mary Ann Howerton, who manages the agency’s crime data information.

Despite their experience, the Lumpkins still think the registry is a good idea _ as long as officials can work out the problems.

Now they are trying to explain to their neighbors about the mix-up, but remain worried that they or their two daughters, 2-year-old Kristen and Candace, 11 months, could be harmed by someone who mistook Lumpkins for Cox.

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