Megan's Law snafu fingered in rapist's murder
Big Brother makes a clerical error
The stabbing death of a convicted rapist 35 days after he was released from prison may have stemmed from a public database that erroneously described him as a child molester, California police say.
Michael A. Dodele was found dead in his run-down mobile home on November 20. The cause of death was puncture wounds to his side and chest. Prosecutors say they are investigating the possibility that the 67-year-old was killed because of an incorrect entry in California's so-called Megan's Law database.
It described his offenses as "rape by force" and "oral copulation with a person under 14 or by force". In fact, all of his sex crimes involved assaults on adult women, according to this article in The Los Angeles Times. Dodele committed his first offenses at age 15, according to court records. His last conviction was for the 1987 knife-point rape of a 37-year-old woman.
"Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of 'normal' people," Ivan Garcia Oliver, the man suspected of the stabbing told the paper during a jailhouse interview. Oliver, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, burglary and elder abuse, also said he had a son who was molested.
"I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces," he added. "It's no different."
A neighbor at the Western Hills Resort & Trailer Park, where both suspect and victim lived, said two days before the killing that Oliver "told every house" in the park that he'd found Dodele listed on the Megan's Law website.
"He said [Dodele] can't be around here," the neighbor said, referring to Oliver. Shortly after the slaying, police found blood at Oliver's house, according to The Times. Deputies also found Oliver with blood on his hands and clothes and injuries that were consistent with having been in a physical fight.
Police have yet to assign a motive for the slaying, but they say one possibility was that Oliver knew Dodele was on the Megan's Law list and didn't want him as a neighbor. Assuming that theory is correct, Dodele's death may be the first in the state to result from being listed in the database. ®