Barely a week after Maine police defended their on-line sex-offender registry following a shooting rampage that left two men dead, legislators in the New England state are now reassessing the public list.
As more details emerge about how Cape Breton dishwasher Stephen Marshall tracked and killed two Maine sex offenders earlier this month, politicians have begun a public debate on whether these offenders' names and pictures should be publicized.
"I think the question we have to look at is: Is [the sex offender registry]in fact still functioning the way it was designed to?" said Senator Bill Diamond, chairman of Maine's criminal justice and public safety committee.
Yesterday, Colonel Craig Poulin, Maine's state police chief, told a justice committee which is re-examining the registries that Mr. Marshall, 20, had created his own list of 29 Maine sex offenders.
The names were culled from Maine's on-line registry and were among the 34 names he researched before embarking on the Easter Sunday shootings. The young man later killed himself on a passenger bus outside Boston.
Mr. Marshall came to the United States on April 13, ostensibly to visit his father, who lives in Houlton, located on the Maine-New Brunswick border.
But early on April 16, he took his father's pickup truck and three weapons and drove first to Milo, Me., where he shot Joseph Gray, 57, then to Corinth, where he killed William Elliott, 24.
Col. Poulin told the committee that police still have no motive.
Investigators have discovered that Mr. Marshall was also looking at sex offenders registered in New Hampshire, Vermont and on the national U.S. registry. It's also not clear if he made any contact with others on the list.
The killings have sparked a debate in the United States about on-line sex-offender registries, which are available in nearly every state to anyone with Internet access.
Mr. Diamond defended the registries. "I think [sex offender registries]serve their purpose," he said in a telephone interview. "But having said that, I want to make sure it's still working the way it was designed to work. Lots of people use them."