Day 4 of search for escaped sex offender Eric Eugene Hartwell, GPS ankle bracelet cut off Friday

DENVER - Today is day four of the search for 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.

On Monday, the U.S. Marshals Service said they have received about a dozen tips about Hartwell, but they have not yet found him.

"Yesterday, a federal arrest warrant was issued and the United States Marshals Service is actively seeking Hartwell," said Charlie Ahmad of the U.S. Marshals Service.

"We believe him to be extremely violent. We are bringing significant resources to bear and we need the public's help to get Eric Hartwell in custody as quickly as possible," Ahmad added.

Anyone with information on Hartwell's whereabouts is asked to called the United States Marshals Service's 24-hour tipline at 1-877-WANTED2. A reward is being offered for information leading to his capture. He is wanted for violating both state and federal parole conditions.

 

"Hartwell is known as a violent sexual offender who preys on young females. Hartwell is known to change appearance frequently by growing facial hair," according to a federal wanted poster.

Hartwell is described as a white man who is 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighs 205 pounds. He has blue eyes, blond or strawberry-blond hair and has a tattoo on his right hand.
 

-- Hartwell's escape

The state Department of Corrections confirmed to 7NEWS Hartwell was paroled in Colorado on Dec. 20, 2013, after serving prison time for failing to register as a sex offender. 

On Friday, he left Independence House, a Denver half-way house for parolees, and cut off his electronic tracking anklet.

The Colorado Department of Corrections said authorities began searching for the fugitive 22 minutes later. 

A "Be on the Lookout" alert (BOLO) was issued for Hartwell. It said 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.

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 on Saturday afternoon. 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.

-- Hartwell has cut off an ankle bracelet before

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.

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.

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