Feds offering reward for capture of escaped sex offender Eric Hartwell

Tips: 877-WANTED2

DENVER - Federal authorities have issued a reward for the convicted child rapist who cut off his GPS bracelet and disappeared in Denver.

Eric Eugene Hartwell, 51, was convicted of raping a child in 1991 and attempted indecent liberties in 1996. According to the state sex offender registry, he is registered in Denver at 2765 S. Federal Blvd., unit 307.

That address corresponds to an Independence House location where offenders live.

According to a 2010 Department of Justice press release, Hartwell cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and escaped from authorities in Washington State during March of 2009. He was recaptured by U.S. Marshals more than a week later in Texas.

One week prior to that 2009 escape, Hartwell had been released onto community supervision after serving time for failing to register as a sex offender.

The Department of Corrections confirms to 7NEWS Hartwell was paroled in Colorado for failing to register as a sex offender on 12/20/2013.  It only took him two months before he left the Independence House in Denver and cut off his tracking bracelet.  The Department of Corrections said authorities began searching for the fugitive 22 minutes later.  Authorities said Hartwell was also on federal probation for previous sex crimes and was ordered to a lifetime of federal supervision.  Neither the DOC nor federal investigators could definitively say who was in charge of monitoring his ankle bracelet.

A "Be on the Lookout" alert (BOLO) was issued for Hartwell Friday morning.  That recording describes him as being last seen wearing a quilted, puffy coat. Underneath, he had on a t-shirt and blue jeans.

According to the BOLO alert, Hartwell may have been headed to the Carriage House Inn on Colfax Ave. The manager there told 7NEWS Reporter Molly Hendrickson that a parole officer did visit Saturday morning to look for Hartwell.

Colorado records indicate Hartwell was previously convicted of failure to register as a sex offender in Clear Creek County and a Seattle Times article includes details of Hartwell's convictions during the 1990s. It says the child he raped was just 6-years old and that the other crime had to do with the attempted rape of a pregnant 17-year-old he picked up hitchhiking.

Although the warrant for Hartwell was issued Friday evening, no public alert was issued about Hartwell's escape until about 90 minutes after 7NEWS' initial publication of this report. That was when Denver Police sent a tweet confirming Hartwell was wanted on "a nationwide felony warrant for parole violation sex assault." The department added that the Colorado Department of Corrections is handling the case and should handle any future questions.

The search for Hartwell was assigned to the Department of Correction's Fugitive Apprehension Unit, said department spokesman Roger Hudson. That unit was created in the aftermath of another absconded parolee, Evan Ebel, who murdered two men before being killed in a shootout in Texas.

"The FAU is working closely with other law enforcement agencies following leads to locate Mr. Hartwell as quickly as possible," Hudson wrote.

Federal investigators are offering a reward leading to his capture.  If you have any information, call their tipline: 877-WANTED2.

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