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Sex Offender Crummel to Be Evicted From Condo

'Megan's Law': Owner says child molester has 30 days to move from home of 20 years. Angry residents want 'high-risk' neighbor out sooner.

May 17, 1997|DAVID REYES and BONNIE HAYES | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

NEWPORT BEACH — Owners of the condominium where convicted sex offender James Lee Crummel has been living intermittently over the past 20 years said Friday he has 30 days to move.

"Obviously, we've been very concerned about the situation there," owner Madelynn Forgey of Costa Mesa said. "We did not find out about [Crummel's] background until this week, along with everyone else, and we're trying to be receptive to the residents' concerns."

Forgey said an eviction notice will be presented to the 53-year-old Crummel today.

Newport Beach police earlier this week distributed more than 500 fliers describing Crummel as a high-risk sex offender and listing his sex-related crimes dating back to the 1960s. Such notification is allowed under the state's new "Megan's Law," and Newport Beach became the third Orange County city to use it since Jan. 1.

As neighbors protested outside Friday, Crummel peered out his screen door and said he had been told the eviction notice was coming.

"I don't care," he whispered. "I'm getting out of this stupid neighborhood anyway. These people are ridiculous."

Crummel, who sports a silver hoop earring and a neatly trimmed mustache that his year-old photo on the neighborhood fliers doesn't show, said he will try to leave the condominium before the 30-day deadline but is unsure where he will go. He said "there are places" he could stay temporarily with friends, but predicts finding a permanent home will be difficult.

"I don't know where I'm supposed to live now," he said. "If everywhere I go I get this . . . well, I just don't know."

Crummel's roommate at the Newport Crest unit, Newport Beach psychiatrist Burnell Forgey, 79, is Madelynn Forgey's father-in-law. She and her husband, Duncan, have owned the two-bedroom condominium for at least the past three years, records show. Burnell Forgey has lived there since the 1970s.

Crummel has been convicted of a string of sex-related crimes, one involving a girl and the rest boys, all from 9 to 14 years old, according to police and court records.

On Friday, Pomona police confirmed they have reopened the case of 6-year-old Jeffrey David Vargo, who on July 2, 1981, left his Anaheim Hills home on his bicycle and was not seen alive again. His strangled and partially clad body was discovered the next morning behind a pile of sand at a Pomona construction site, Pomona Lt. Louie Hernandez said.

Crummel was questioned about the death in 1981, "but he had an alibi at the time," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said that Crummel is not a suspect in the Anaheim boy's death, but that police would like to question him again.

Crummel also is being questioned in the death of 13-year-old James Trotter of Costa Mesa, who disappeared on his way to school in 1979. His remains were found by Crummel during a hike 11 years later in the Cleveland National Forest. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department has also questioned Crummel in connection with the Aug. 6, 1995, disappearance from Big Bear Lake of Jack "J.D." Phillips, a 9-year-old who is still missing.

Crummel also was convicted of the murder of a 9-year-old boy in Arizona in 1983, but the judge ruled that his defense was ineffective and granted a new trial. In a plea bargain, Crummel pleaded guilty to kidnapping. He currently is not on parole or probation, but has been questioned by police in at least three counties in connection with dead or missing boys.

Neighbors in the upscale complex off Superior Avenue picketed outside Crummel's unit twice this week, yelling, "We want you out!" through megaphones and rolled-up poster boards.

On Friday, police cut off the verbal protests after 10 p.m., saying some residents in the complex had complained of the noise. The group responded by lighting candles and pacing quietly outside the condominium instead.

News of the Pomona case enraged residents, who had discussed pitching in to buy the condominium themselves. They said they will keep picketing until Crummel leaves, and plan to expand their protest today to the real estate office where Duncan Forgey works.

"Until we have proof that [the Forgeys] have served those eviction papers, we're not stopping," said Darleen Sovoji, who lives near Crummel in Newport Crest. "They have to get him out. He must leave."

Crummel said he doesn't blame the Forgeys if they evict him, "because they're probably feeling pressure too." Duncan Forgey's father, for whom Crummel said he is the caregiver, is not being asked to leave, he said.

"They're doing what they think is right," he said.

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