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Mostly he kept to himself, but there was something about the tenant in townhouse unit No. 28, right next to the children's playground, that was deeply disturbing.

It wasn't just the muscular build, the missing front teeth and the prison tattoos. More troubling to the other residents of Copenhagen Road was the constant smell of marijuana wafting from the house, the tinfoil across the window of the master bedroom, screening its view of St. Richard elementary school, and the occupant's occasional flash of violence. What really bothered Douglas Donald Moore's neighbours was the steady stream of young people who would show up at his three-bedroom home at all hours, usually to buy pot, but sometimes to stay over

"When the moving truck came [in late February]and he left, it was a relief," said Candace Dubois, a 38-year-old mother of two who lives directly across the street. "You just know when something's not right."

The reality, it transpired, was far more terrifying.

In the midst of Mississauga's tidy Meadowvale neighbourhood was a monster -- a serial pedophile and perhaps a serial killer. Not until Mr. Moore hanged himself in jail nine days ago, after being charged with fondling and raping three small boys in a foster home and questioned in the murder of Mississauga teen Rene Charlebois, 15, did his horrendous past become apparent.

And when it did, Mr. Moore's calamitous journey through the justice system proved far worse than most suspected. By the end of his 36-year life he had chalked up a track record that could serve as a textbook example of how that system can fail.

Moreover, Mr. Moore's crimes likely extend far beyond sexual assault. Aside from the foster-home sex charges, and the discovery of Rene's body in a landfill site a few days after Mr. Moore was arrested and interrogated in March, he is viewed by Peel Regional Police as a prime suspect in the disappearance of two other young men -- Robert Grewal, 22, and Joseph Manchisi, 20.

The two friends, both of whom knew Mr. Moore, vanished Nov. 12. This week, DNA tests confirmed that a body founddays later in a patch of woods south of Montreal was Mr. Grewal's. Peel police said yesterday the death is being treated as a homicide and that Mr. Manchisi's remains may be found in the same vicinity.

For five months, Mr. Manchisi's parents have been fighting to keep their hopes alive. "We've been holding on to what little hope we have but it's slowly going," said his stepmother, Christine.

And amid anguish that's been heightened by widespread local speculation that the two friends were murdered because they robbed Mr. Moore, Mr. Manchisi's father, Giuseppe, has a question about the man at the centre of it all.

"How is it possible for someone like this to fall through the system?" asked the Milton realtor and restaurateur. "That's what I don't understand."

Mr. Moore's criminal record stretches back to 1986 when he was convicted of four counts of sexual assault in nearby Brampton and placed on probation. In 1988 came a sexual attack on a 12-year-old British Columbia boy, earning him a four-year penitentiary term. After his release in 1991, he sexually assaulted a Mississauga boy of 14, adding four more years behind bars. By 1997 he had been paroled to a halfway house in Hamilton, stirring considerable local concern. When his parole was completed the next year, he was free without restriction.

And nobody was monitoring him. Ontario's sex-offender registry requires convicted sex attackers to keep police informed of their whereabouts, but it took effect in April, 2001.

But as with other law-enforcement tools lacking retroactive application, the registry's sweep does not reach pre-2001 offenders.

That shortfall, however, was only one of the factors that allowed Mr. Moore to stay on the street.

When Peel Regional Police visited Copenhagen Road resident Dave Wallace last summer on an unrelated matter, the 47-year-old machinist recounts specifically telling the officers that Mr. Moore was selling drugs to teenagers.

"This was on a regular basis, I said, and I was basically told 'This is not what we're here for.' And the way I feel is, if they had acted then, maybe this wouldn't have happened."

A few days after Mr. Manchisi vanished in November, his father and other family members culled his phone book and called all the friends and acquaintances they could find. Repeatedly, Mr. Moore's name came up and it was relayed to police.

"Basically I nailed this bastard down," Mr. Manchisi's father said in an interview. "I told the police where he lived and where he worked. So they knew from day one about Doug Moore."

But there seemed to be no great concern, he said. "One of the detectives said to me, 'Joe, usually these types are not violent.' "

Rene Charlebois disappeared from his Mississauga home approximately a month later.

Acting police Inspector Rick DeFacendis, who heads the investigation, has so far refused to say whether Mr. Moore was questioned before his arrest in March.

The alleged sex assaults that finally led to Mr. Moore being detained all occurred at a bungalow in rural Caledon where a couple in their 50s had a number of Children's Aid Society youngsters in their care. Over a period of several years, while helping out as a babysitter and handyman, Mr. Moore is believed to have attacked three, possibly four of the boys living there, including two described as mentally challenged.

How could he have gained such access? The Peel CAS, now reviewing its placement policies, blames the foster parents and has removed all the children in their care.

"This situation is very troubling to us," said communications director Lucie Baistrocchi.

"Our policy is very clear -- we have a manual, we have training -- and what happened here was that the family had allowed children in its care to have visits with a person over 18 who had not undergone a police-record check. So they were allowing Doug Moore to be around."

Even in his death, Mr. Moore managed to cheat the system. When he was arrested at a Burlington motel, after being tracked down by cell-phone records, a squad of Halton Regional Police officers smashed the door down without warning. That was because the target was considered unpredictable and possibly suicidal, police said later.

Yet those concerns were apparently not relayed to the Maplehurst Detention Centre in Milton, where Mr. Moore was found hanged on April 2.

Mr. Moore was born in Montreal, which might have some bearing on where Mr. Grewal's remains were found. Police have said the investigation encompasses "other persons of interest." But he spent most of his life in Ontario, in and out of prison, and had lived on Copenhagen Road for about three years.

From time to time, he would be visited by his two brothers, both of whom were slightly handicapped, and Ms. Dubois, across the street, remembers seeing him giving one of the brothers a beating in the front yard.

"He flew right off the handle," she said.

Also living at unit 28 was Mr. Moore's girlfriend and her son, Darren, who was about 11 when he and his mother moved away, a few weeks before Mr. Moore departed.

Mother and son both seemed introverted and fearful, said Mr. Wallace, who once visited the "spotless" family home but decided "this was someone I really didn't want to associate with."

For a while Mr. Moore worked as a framing carpenter in Grimsby, Ont. Carpentry was also a home hobby.

But his chief recreational pleasures appear to have been beer, marijuana and possibly other drugs. A teen at a nearby Tim Hortons on Derry Road, which Mr. Moore would often visit with his young friends, said there were "rumours" of cocaine use.

And while Mr. Moore acknowledged having served time in prison, Mr. Wallace said, he always claimed it was for manslaughter.

During the exhaustive cross-checking of his missing son's telephone book, Mr. Manchisi heard the same thing from the many young people who knew of Mr. Moore.

In addition, Mr. Manchisi learned of a possible explanation -- one that he questions -- of why his son and Mr. Grewal might have been murdered.

"I came across a lot of kids who mentioned that Moore was going around saying he was going to kill these guys. And I told the cops that. Apparently they had stolen money from him, that was the word going around."

But when one of the family confronted Mr. Moore with their suspicions, he said he didn't know what they were talking about.

"His response was, 'I'm 36 years old and these kids are 20,' " Mr. Manchisi recounted.

In sum, Mr. Moore seems to emerge as every parent's nightmare: The irredeemable pedophile, the walking time bomb.

Psychiatric treatment can allow even hard-core sex offenders to control their behaviour, said Prof. Howard Barbaree, who heads the Law and Mental Health Program at the University of Toronto's department of psychiatry.

But Prof. Barbaree stressed that treatment must be reinforced by constant scrutiny.

"Treatment by itself -- say a year's worth of psychotherapy -- is not likely to change a person like [Mr. Moore] not at his level of risk.

"Our experience is that those risks can be quite well controlled. But supervision is a critical component."

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