A parolee convicted in 1990 of beating and sexually abusing a woman near Springfield is back behind bars in Texas on similar charges.
EUGENE — A parolee convicted in 1990 of beating and sexually abusing a woman near Springfield is back behind bars in Texas on similar charges.
Lynn Edward Denham's arrest this week in Richland Hills, Texas, in connection with an alleged rape came three months after police in another Dallas area city arrested him in a shoplifting case, and subsequently learned he was wanted in Oregon for a parole violation.
Fort Worth police last December shared that information with Oregon state officials, who at the time said they weren't interested in traveling to Texas to hold Denham accountable for dodging parole.
"They refused to extradite him," Fort Worth police Sgt. Chad Mahaffey said. "We attempted on more than one occasion. (Investigators) hit a brick wall at every turn."
A spokesman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski, whose office oversees extradition, said state officials passed on the chance to bring Denham back to Oregon because the suspect's history suggested it wouldn't deter him from fleeing again.
Denham, 54, was released from an Oregon prison in 1998. During the next four years, state officials went to Alaska, California and twice to Louisiana after various police agencies found Denham to be wanted in Oregon on parole violations, Kulongoski spokesman Rem Nivens said.
Following his extradition in each of those four cases, Denham spent between 30 and 90 days in jail. Nivens said 90 days is the maximum sentence that may be imposed for a parole violation under state law.
"The pattern with him is that he'd return to Oregon, serve the jail time and flee again," Nivens said. "Repeatedly, taxpayer money was spent to bring him back."
Nivens said several factors — including a suspect's criminal history and nature of their latest arrest — play into state officials' extradition decisions.
While the Fort Worth theft case involving Denham was relatively minor, police say the Richland Hills incident was anything but.
In that case, a woman said she was asleep in her home last Thursday when a man with a knife walked in and threatened her. The intruder bound the woman's wrists and ankles together before raping her, police said. Denham allegedly stole the woman's pickup and left the area, only to be arrested several hours later in another county.
Richland Hills police have named Denham as a suspect in the reported assault of another woman the night before the alleged rape.
In 1991, a Lane County judge sentenced Denham to eight years in prison for the kidnap, sodomy and sexual abuse of a woman near Springfield. Denham had lived in the area and worked in construction for several years.
After learning of Denham's criminal history in Oregon — and state officials' decision to not extradite him in December — one of his alleged Texas victims expressed anger this week during an interview with Dallas/Fort Worth television station WFAA.
"It's hard to believe that a known sex offender with kidnapping charges in Oregon was still running around in Texas and they refused to take him back," the woman said. "It's beyond belief."
Nivens said state officials were distressed to learn of the latest allegations Denham faces.
"Clearly, it's a very tragic situation, and I think we all would do anything we could to change this," Nivens said, adding that officials couldn't "predict that (Denham) would take this action."
Information from: The Register-Guard, http:www.registerguard.com