Missing sex offender Eric Eugene Hartwell caught one week after cutting off GPS monitor, escaping

Hartwell tracked by Marshals to Virginia motel

DENVER - The U.S. Marshals have arrested a child rapist who cut off his GPS monitor and disappeared from Denver one week ago, 7NEWS has learned.

Eric Eugene Hartwell, 51, was taken into custody Friday morning in Norfolk, Va.

Hartwell was convicted of raping his neighbor's 6-year-old daughter in Washington state in 1991 and attempted indecent liberties in 1996 when he had tried to rape a pregnant 17-year-old he had picked up hitchhiking, according to court records.

Since then, he has had a history of escapes and arrests for failing to register as a sex offender.

Hartwell absconded from a Denver halfway house on Feb. 21, prompting authorities to issue a federal warrant for his arrest.

U.S. Marshals tell 7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson that Hartwell used public transportation to move from city to city. In fact, they have surveillance footage of him in two different cities.

"He stayed on the move, he stayed on the run and he moved from place to place to place and we were able to catch glimpses of him on surveillance footage at train stations and bus stations and then the break came when he finally settled down in Norfolk Virginia and decided to get a motel room," said Charlie Ahmad, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

When they eventually caught up to him, Hartwell was in a motel along Military Highway in Norfolk just after 9 a.m. Mountain Time.

"He refused to unlock the dead bolt on the motel room door and then the Marshal Service deputies and task force agents that were there took action," Ahmad said.

“We have been relentlessly pursuing Hartwell, day and night, as he fled across the country," said Chief Deputy Kenneth Deal with the U.S. Marshals Service.  "When a dangerous predator is on the loose we don’t stop.  Public safety is always our main concern."

Hartwell is currently on federal probation for previous sex crimes and was ordered to a lifetime of federal supervision. He is expected to make a first appearance in front of a U.S. Magistrate sometime Friday.

According to Colorado's  sex offender registry, Hartwell was last registered in Denver at 2765 S. Federal Blvd., unit 307, before he escaped. That address corresponds to Independence House, a place where offenders live.

Hartwell was staying at a halfway house in Washington in 2009 when he cut off his ankle monitor and fled. He was caught more than a week later in Texas.

"We don’t know what his ultimate goal was," Ahmad said. "When he’s gone on the run in the past he hasn’t left the country but in this circumstance, we don’t know yet."

On Thursday, the Eastern Washington University Police Department sent an advisory to the campus warning of a possible sighting of Hartwell. However, that now appears to have been a false report.

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