Rapist under bridge was placed near victim’s home

SNOHOMISH — The bridge where state officials told a high-risk sex offender to sleep after his release from prison earlier this month is less than five miles from the home of the woman he raped.

Some of her children go to an elementary school blocks from the bridge. Another goes to the high school about a mile away.

“I’m scared to be at my house now. I’m scared to go around town. I’m scared to run into him. I’m scared for my kids at school,” said Sabrina, 29. She asked that her last name not be used. “I don’t think he has anything to lose now, so who knows what he’ll do.”

Police still are looking for David J. Torrence, 43, a level-3 sex offender released from prison on April 20. He was told by state parole officers to sleep below a bridge along 88th Street SW under U.S. 2 near Snohomish.

Torrence is homeless. State Corrections Department officials determined the bridge was the best location for them to keep an eye on the convicted rapist while the search continued for more appropriate housing.

Three days after his release, he cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet. Police on Thursday found the GPS system ditched near an apartment in Lynnwood.

For Sabrina, news of Torrence’s escape is upsetting, she said. The Snohomish woman now is a mother of five children ranging in age from five weeks to 16 years old.

“I’m just very angry,” she said. “The fact they left him in the town I live is disturbing on many levels.”

A nationwide no-bail warrant has been issued for Torrence’s arrest.

If he fails to register with Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives as he’s required to do today, he could face an additional felony charge of failure to register, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.

Corrections officials sent Sabrina a letter about Torrence’s pending release from prison, said Anna Aylward, a department spokeswoman. The letter mistakenly said Torrence would be reporting to a parole office in Everett instead of Monroe.

“There was this blip and so we’re looking at that,” Aylward said. “She’s worried about herself and her children. And how terrible is that?”

Had Sabrina been given the correct information, she may have raised red flags that could have forced the state to act differently, Aylward said.

State law requires sex offenders to be released back into the county where the crime was committed, she said. But there are exceptions, including the safety of victims.

In 1995, Torrence pleaded guilty to second-degree rape. He was accused of grabbing Sabrina, then 15, off a south Everett street, threatening to shoot her and then assaulting her, according to court records.

He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Since completing that sentence, he’s been arrested several more times.

On April 20, Torrence was released from prison after serving a one-year term for failing to register as a sex offender.

He’ll likely face the same charge when police catch up with him. In the meantime, sheriff’s deputies have added additional patrols near Sabrina’s home, Hover said.

“We’re doing everything we can to protect her,” she said.

Typically, local police hold community meetings when the highest-risk sex offenders are released and move into a neighborhood. No meetings are held when the sex offender is homeless, Hover said.

“We don’t know from one day to the next where they’re going to be,” she said.

Crime victims can sign up with corrections officials to be notified about an offender’s whereabouts and release, Aylward said. Typically, people are alerted when a person is released from jail. Sabrina is enrolled in the program.

Officials also are trying to determine the best way to keep victims notified about sex offenders who cut off GPS systems, Aylward said.

That’s not enough, said Sandra Larrinaga, 67, of Lynnwood. She doesn’t know any of the people involved in the case, but said she is upset about Torrence, the state’s decision to release him to a bridge, and the way Sabrina is being treated.

“It makes me sick. It really does,” Larrinaga said. “I realized the man served his time and he had to go somewhere. But there’s got to be a better solution than telling him to go sleep under a bridge, especially when it’s so close to the home of his victim.”

Despite reassurances of her safety, news about Torrence has rekindled old fears for Sabrina.

“Everything’s coming back up again and I have children now. It’s very different,” Sabrina said. “I had no idea I’d be doing this again. That’s what’s so hard.”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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