• Dennis McCaslin

Unsettling past and present : Sexual predators in The Fort

Every town across America neatly tucks away all kinds of secrets or scandals. Some, while interesting, are harmless. Others, however, are downright deadly. Over the years, many of the projects that have come across my desk have revealed Fort Smith secrets that are quietly tucked away from the public eye. The most eye opening? Well, that’s simple — the sheer amount of violent sexual predators that have lived in around Fort Smith since the early 1990’s. It’s probably safe to assume that this problem existed well before the 1990’s, but I didn’t become aware of this issue in Fort Smith until several years ago. Now, when I say that Fort Smith has been home to a sexual predator, I don’t mean just any kind of sexual predator. I am referring to the worst of the worst: Offenders that pose the highest level of risk to the public. Level 3 and level 4 offenders which indicates a high risk to the public. By definition, a Level 3 offender imposes a very high risk to the public. A Level 4 offender classification indicates a sexually violent predator. The landscape of Fort Smith and its surrounding towns seem to be busting at the seams with these types of offenders. Below are just a few:

William Dillard Taylor — In 1996, after a week-long multi-state manhunt by more than 30 officers, Taylor, age 36 at the time, was arrested in rural Adair County, Oklahoma. He was captured and held for Arkansas authorities. Taylor, originally from Mulberry, stole a gun from his sister’s house after a warrant was issued in Sebastian and Crawford counties for his arrest. In Sebastian County, Taylor was charged with raping a young girl. In Crawford County, he was charged with rape and sexual abuse of a minor. These were just the crimes authorities were able to charge him for. According to court records, Taylor was questioned about the disappearance of Morgan Nick, as well as the kidnapping and murder of Melissa Witt. Authorities were never able to make a connection between Taylor and either crime.

Charles Ray Vines — The father of two sons was well-liked in the community in the 1990’s. However, nobody knew the secrets that lurked just behind that likable exterior. Vines was caught inside the home of a 16-year-old girl as he was brutally beating her and trying to rape her. The girl’s stepfather came home during the attack and saved her life. As it turns out, teenagers were not the kind of victims Vines preferred. Vines confessed to police that he had raped and murdered elderly women – including one he’d known nearly his entire life. The horror of his crimes didn’t stop there. He also confessed that he preferred having sex with women that were deceased. He was quoted as saying, “Oh, yeah, that’s my favorite kind of sex. That’s what I fantasize about.”

Nathaniel Benjamin Levi Bar-Jonah — Born David Paul Brown, was a convicted child molester, possible serial killer and cannibal, who before he died in 2008, was serving a 130-year prison sentence with the possibility of parole in Montana after being convicted of kidnapping, aggravated assault and sexual assault of various children. Bar-Jonah, notorious for ‘romantically’ pursuing women that were single with young children, preferably young boys, lived with one such woman (name withheld for her own protection) in Fort Smith, in 1995. Bar-Jonah was an active NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) member. In fact, Bar-Jonah was responsible for quietly establishing NAMBLA chapters in each city that he lived in over the course of his life. It is believed he helped set up the first NAMBLA chapter in the River Valley; a chapter that is alive and well to this day. NAMBLA, for those of you who don’t know, is a pedophile and pederasty advocacy organization in the United States. It works to abolish age-of-consent laws criminalizing adult sexual involvement with minors and campaigns for the release of men who have been jailed for sexualcontacts with minors that did not involve ‘coercion’. The group was sued by the family of Jeffery Curley after he was brutally murdered by a card-carrying NAMBLA member. In fact, at the time, the NAMBLA website openly provided instructions for luring young boys.

This is all in your own backyard, Fort Smith. And unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind, I did not write about this topic to condone or endorse any such behavior. Instead, I hope to provide a visceral real look at what dangers you may find in your own back yard. Be aware of your surroundings and educate yourself on what dangers you might encounter in your own neighborhood and surrounding areas. A good place to arm yourself with important information is at the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) website. They provide a sex offender registry search for the citizens of Arkansas. The registry is updated as offender addresses and other offender information is updated in their office. Citizens can search for offenders by address, city, county or zip code and review information on the punishable offenders within the map view of the address you enter Citizens can also search for an offender by name if applicable. The ACIC also offers email and phone notifications of updates of offender addresses. The notifications are easy to subscribe to and you can subscribe for notifications on as many addresses as you like. This is especially helpful if an offender moves into the specified radius of the address submitted. The ACIC offender search can be found by visiting THIS link.