A registered sexual predator is accused of living right next door to a Clay County park.
Marcella Wills said she’s glad she kept a close eye on her grandkids at the neighborhood playground on Trail Ridge Road in Middleburg.
She told Action News Jax, “With the days getting longer now, there’s kids out past dusk. So, it’s kind of scary.”
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According to deputies, Thomas Woodard was staying at a house that’s less than 100 feet from the park.
The 26-year-old has been convicted of sex crimes on a child less than 12 years old.
Under Florida law, he can’t live within 1,000 feet of a school or park because of the conviction in Duval County.
In April, Action News Jax exposed the loophole that allowed a registered sexual predator to legally live right across the street from two Clay County schools.
That isn’t the case with Woodard, according to investigators.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sexual predator registry lists Woodard’s home at an address in Jacksonville.
Action News Jax’s Beth Rousseau stopped by the Duval County home.
A woman who didn’t want to be identified said the 26-year-old never stayed at the home and used their address without permission.
Homeowners near the Middleburg home where Woodard was allegedly staying said he lived at the house before.
A neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said, “It’s very concerning, you know, because I have grandchildren.”
She added, “Even the people who live at the house where he is supposedly staying have children.”
Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson said sexual predators often move from place to place, seeking out areas they aren’t allowed to live.
Carson explained, “Now with technology, we’re able to put a monitor on them and that’s where the process is headed. We need to know where these individuals are.”
Rousseau went to see if the family living in the home in Middleburg were aware Woodard is a sexual predator. No one answered the door.
On Wednesday night, Woodard was being held at the Clay County Jail on $100,000 bond.
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