Houston man added to state's most wanted sex offenders list found in prison

The last known address for Mark Anthony Gasaway Jr., 26, was Houston. He has relatives in Galveston and sometimes goes by J.R. Gasaway.

June 14, 2012 6:04:37 AM PDT
A man was put on the state's top 10 most wanted sex offenders list. But now, less than 24 hours after he was put on it, we know where he is -- and he's been there for more than a year.

We sent the alert out on Tuesday that state troopers and police were looking for Mark Anthony Gasaway Jr. He's a registered sex offender.

In late 2010, HPD thought he disappeared and so they issued a warrant for his arrest. Little did they know he was already in custody for another crime, and has been ever since.

In a freshly minted wanted poster for Gasaway, it says he failed to register as a sex offender in December 2010. He was also on the state's sex offender website, too, with a note that in January 2011 his status changed. Gasaway, the state contends, absconded or disappeared.

But we typed Gasaway's name into another website. And there he was, listed as an inmate at the medium-security federal prison in Beaumont. A call to the prison confirmed he's there, and court records show he's been behind bars since an arrest for possession with the intent to sell cocaine. That means he'd been there since November 2010, a month before the state says he went missing.

He never had any bond and was convicted in March 2011. His expected release date is March 2013. Neither DPS, Harris County or HPD knew about it until we told them.

"It did surprise me," said Marinelle Timmons with the Victim Assistance Center.

Timmons is the executive director of the Victim Assistance Center in Harris County. She says a miscommunication like this is an aberration. And the good news is he's off the street.

"It's great that he was found. And it's great that he's incarcerated," Timmons said.

On Wednesday afternoon, we found out what happened.

HPD tells us that two weeks ago, the Department of Public Safety, which compiles the most wanted list, asked HPD if Gasaway was still wanted. An officer with the sex offenders registration unit checked seven local databases and could not find him in any facility.

But that officer mistakenly did not check an eighth database that accounts for those in custody outside of the area. And that's how a man already behind bars for 20 months ended up among the most wanted.

We also know that federal authorities never notified HPD or Harris County they had Gasaway in custody.

HPD says that the officer in question will undergo retraining. And late Wednesday, DPS called to say they've removed Gasaway from the ten most wanted list.


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