By Richard Lardner
Published: March 21, 2016
Had anyone looked, Hazelbower may not have been hard to find. After fleeing Fort Campbell, he had gone home to Lanark, Ill., a small town two hours west of Chicago. Lanark Police Chief Matt Magill and other local law enforcement officials said they were never asked to search for him.WASHINGTON — Army Pvt. Jameson T. Hazelbower went AWOL after learning he was suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl. Despite the potential threat to the public that he posed, the self-described sex addict roamed free for nearly three months before local police collared him in Winnebago, Ill., near where he grew up.
And that was only by chance, according to interviews, police reports and court-martial records obtained by The Associated Press.
An officer responded to a call late on a Friday night in March 2014 about a suspicious vehicle parked in a cul-de-sac outside an apartment complex. Hazelbower, his pants down to his knees, was in the car with a girl, barely 14. She was unharmed.
Hazelbower's case is a window into an obscure but significant aspect of the U.S. military's legal system. Deserters suspected of serious crimes are to be prioritized for capture based on the severity of the offenses. But the Army never searched for Hazelbower and the U.S. Marshals Service was not called in, even though marshals have arrested more than 200 deserters over the past five years alone.
In fact, there was a lack of urgency to locate Hazelbower despite strident warnings from his superiors at Fort Campbell, Ky., records show. The military's version of an arrest warrant described him as a "sexually violent predator" and a known drug abuser. Also, he had gone AWOL before. "CAUTION - ESCAPE RISK" is stamped in bold letters on the right side of the document. read more here