We moved to Florida in January, 2005 and we rented a little townhouse in the tiny town of Homosassa in a very lovely development aptly named Sugarmill Woods. One of the historic markers in Homosassa is the Yulee Sugar Mill and is now a State Park.
This is truly old Florida, it has its charm, it has its strangeness of wanting to hold onto the past too. Families who have lived there for years don’t like change. They don’t like new housing developments sprouting up. I am not kidding when I tell you I would see people barefoot in Walgreen’s or WalMart. There were people living there on the edge of poverty and people living there who had made millions of dollars.
Also living in Homosassa was a sick sad soul by the name of John Couey. Couey was a registered sexual offender.
Couey had a long list of criminal offenses, He had been arrested 24 times for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon without permit, and indecent exposure. In 1978 he had been sent to prison for kissing a young girl while committing robbery. He was sent to prison for 10 years, paroled in two. He was arrested soon again for fondling a 5-year-old girl. Laws were more lenient then.
On February 24, 2005 the family of sweet innocent beautiful little Jessica Lunsford reported her missing. Our little sleepy town went national news as reporters arrived, search parties were brought in and in the end Jessica was only yards away from her family the entire time.
The following is an excerpt from the Bill O’Reilly show regarding the errors the Citrus County Sheriff’s Department allegedly made regarding Couey:
GELMAN:Well, there are several reasons. A few months before Jessie was abducted, FDLE sent a letter to Sheriff Dawsy advising him to round up the sex offenders in the area. Couey was on that list, and no one ever went to search for him. We understand that just two weeks before Jessie was abducted, Couey was reported to law enforcement as living in that trailer right in front of her house. They were told where he was. They were told that he had a warrant for his arrest, that he was a sex offender and to pick him up. And no one went and got him.