Suspected child molester nabbed in Kennewick

Suspected child molester nabbed in Kennewick »Play Video
KENNEWICK, Wash. - A suspected child molester may have left a trail of victims. Police want to know if your child has come in contact with Vernon Gillett.

The 70-year old admitted writing notes to young girls promising money and gifts in exchange for sex.

KEPR looked into his criminal past and why he may be wanted across the state.

To his neighbors Vernon Gillett seemed like a nice old man. They were shocked to find out, he may be anything but.

Electa Samson said, "I have such mixed emotions right now."

She considered Gillett a friend. Samson says the Kennewick man went fishing with her family, even attended bible study with her husband.

"Talked about the Lord all the time, yeah," she said.

Her granddaughter is one of Gillett's alleged victims. She tells me the middle schooler received a note from him promising gifts or money for sex.

"The wool was pulled over our eyes," she said.

Gillett was picked up by Kennewick Police Tuesday night. They say he admitted writing the note. According to court documents, Gillett targeted girls as young as three up to 13. They believe he molested at least one child.

Property Management says Gillett lives in a trailer in their park with his son, who was also taken into custody, but has since been released. Everyone has to pass a background check in order to establish residency here.

It seems that Gillett gave a fake last name and age to bypass that. That may be because he was on probation for a prior sex crime conviction out of Walla Walla County. He avoided prison but is a level one sex offender. This means you can't search for his name online.

Gillett was brought into court Wednesday afternoon.

He is being held without bail for 72-hours. Authorities have until Friday to formally charge Gillett.

Investigators believe the 70-year old has more victims. They're working with police in Walla Walla, Adams and Yakima Counties.

They're hoping more children will come forward if they were victimized by Vernon Gillett.

Samson said, "I'm glad that my granddaughter and the other children weren't hurt."

There still may be some out there who are. If you believe your child may be a victim, you're urged to call police.

If convicted, Gillett faces up to 10 years in jail and fines.