Fugitive sex offender employed as carnival worker arrested


Sante Fe police say just after midnight Tuesday a patrol sergeant conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle after the driver failed to dim headlights to approaching vehicles. During the stop, a backseat passenger provided a false name of Wayne Hemmie, saying he was 47 years old from Iowa. The sergeant found his story suspicious after finding no records of the person.

After an investigation, it was determined that the man was Robert Wayne Niffen, a fugitive from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Niffen had been in prison serving a 57-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault when paroled. According to the TDCJ, Niffen's sentence does not expire until 2039.

Niffen, 52, had failed to report as a sex offender as required by law and the conditions of his parole. Niffen has an extensive criminal history and is identified by TDCJ as having violent tendencies.

The investigation also revealed that while a fugitive sex offender, Niffen had been employed as a carnival employee working a gaming booth at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo. Police say it's still unclear what, if any, background checks were completed on Niffen prior to his employment at the fair. It is believed that Niffen used the same alias to get hired.

Santa Fe police have arrested Niffen on the parole warrant as well as failure to identify fugitive from justice as a result of providing a false name and date of birth. Additional charges may be filed as a result of his securing employment at the fair under a false identity.

Niffen was booked into the Santa Fe city jail where he is being held without bond.

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