Which part of this story isn’t part of the reported story?
- A violent rapist is foiled when his victim secretly dials 911 and a savvy emergency operator keeps silent for 15 minutes while monitoring the attack and getting help to the woman in danger.
- Improvements in the technology that pinpoints cellphone locations save the victim of a violent rapist when police are able to find her after she secretly dials 911 during the attack.
- A convicted serial rapist, convicted serial armed robber, and self-proclaimed serial killer receives serial leniency from Florida’s Parole Board. Unjustly freed from prison, he disables his ankle monitor, leaves his house for hours to go drinking in a bar, and returns with a victim he proceeds to try to rape, while threatening her with death. He nearly gets away with a heinous crime, and police must risk their own safety to hunt him down, when he should never have been out of prison in the first place.
#3. Of course. And with no real reporting on the multiple failures that led to Tommy Lee Sailor being free and under-monitored, the following won’t be part of any future story, either:
The parole board members responsible for the serial rapist’s serial early releases and the corrections supervisors responsible for failing to act on the ankle monitor alarm are investigated by the media. Political connections are exposed and scrutinized. The Department of Corrections cleans house, vowing to fix the multiple systemic failures that allowed Tommy Lee Sailor gain freedom and get to the place where he leaned over his victim and hissed in her ear: “I’m a serial killer.” “I don’t care about going back to prison.” “I’m going to kill you.”
Tommy Lee Sailor: “I don’t care about going back to prison.”
There are a lot of strange things in Tommy Lee Sailor’s record. I imagine that some of the prosecutors or victims who encountered him would have something to say about his criminal past. Sailor is classified as a “sexual predator,” the most serious classification on the books. His adult criminal record — you know, the only one we can see — begins with two counts of armed robbery at age 17. Doubtlessly there’s a sealed juvenile record as well: are there sex crime convictions in it? Sailor committed the two armed robberies in July of 1988. He was sentenced to 12 years for each robbery in 1989, but the sentence must have been suspended because he was re-sentenced several years later.
In-between, he was sent to prison for nearly three years, from March 1989 until December 1992, for a 1988 crime described as attempted burglary of an occupied dwelling and “Shoot/Throw Missile – Bldg/Veh.” Attempted burglaries of occupied dwellings are often interrupted rapes.
Sailor walked out of prison in December, 1992. But he wouldn’t be re-sentenced for the 1988 robberies until October of 1994. Why? Why did he get a free pass on two armed offenses? Who gave him that free pass?
Whoever handed him that pass also handed Sailor the opportunity to commit either two or three sexual assaults, one in February of 1994, and two separate counts on the same day in March. Probably more than two or three, of course — rapists are rarely caught, let alone tried, for every rape they commit. So at least two women, and probably more, were victimized by this dangerous rapist because somebody in Hillsborough County, Florida didn’t think it was important enough to put Tommy Lee Sailor behind bars for committing armed robbery, even after he was also caught breaking into an occupied house.
Somebody probably decided that it was more important to “re-enter” (the latest argot) Sailor into society than hold him responsible for his crimes. Somebody decided that Sailor’s future — his putative, fictional “rehabilitation” — was ever so much more important than justice or the safety of his victims. I wonder who got him off that time? A prosecutor short on time? A defense attorney cozying up to some notoriously lenient judge? Some community activist who got paid big bucks to “mentor” young offenders like Sailor, the greatest scam in late 20th Century corrections? I worked for a “community activist” who pretend to do that. For very big bucks. Tax dollars.
So Tommy Lee Sailor wasn’t actually convicted for those armed robberies until 1994, when he was simultaneously tried and convicted for one armed-or-injury sexual assault and either one or two unarmed sexual assaults. In October of 1994, he received 10 years for each of the armed robberies and ten years for each of the sexual assaults, doubtlessly to be served concurrently.
He did, however (unlike virtually every other offender whose record I look up), end up spending more than 10 years in prison. He ended up spending nearly 14 years in prison, if the on-line records are correct, from November 1994 to July 2008. I say “if” because his criminal convictions just keep on coming. Most likely, he was committing those additional crimes while incarcerated. He received 26 months for “Batt/Leo/Firefgt/EMS/Etc.” in 1995 (battery of a law enforcement officer); 12 years for the same crime, plus aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, in 1997: if any one of those offenses, or one of his rapes, or one of his armed robberies had only been added to his original sentence, instead of assigned to serve concurrently, Sailor wouldn’t have been free to attack that woman in Tampa last week.
And if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
By the time he first walked out of prison, a mere 17 months ago, Tommy Lee Sailor had accumulated, on paper, 98 years in prison for adult convictions alone (not counting the 24 years for armed robbery that became 20 years in the second go-round). Nobody expected him to serve even a fraction of that time, of course. The fact that he actually served 17 years of it suggests that his behavior in prison was far from compliant.
But that wasn’t the end of his prison career: he was picked up six months ago and sent back to prison for about a month. Probation violation? Or, to be accurate, yet another probation violation? How many times did he violate? How many second chances did he get? Did he set off alarms more than once? If so, why was he permitted to go back on an ankle bracelet? Seeing as this was a clearly violent and uncowed recidivist felon with several attacks on law enforcement officers and women, why wasn’t his probation taken seriously enough to merit an immediate response when he disabled the ankle bracelet last week?
What, precisely, do you have to do to get treated like a dangerous felon?
Inquiring minds want to know. Really, they do. The mainstream media whines constantly about the “death of the newspaper” and all that, but if they bothered to actually investigate stories like this one, they would find willing audiences. It’s their attitude that turns people off, frankly — an attitude of utter incuriosity about the things that matter to the public, such as why it is that a person with a record like Sailor’s could be out of prison.
Think about this: Tommy Sailor was so unconcerned about getting caught violating his probation that he actually brought his victim back to the location where he had just disabled his ankle monitor and attacked her there. He probably was going to kill her.
And then there’s the issue of safety for police officers. Were the officers who were alerted to Sailor’s house aware that he had a record of assaulting police? It took me about a minute to look up this much of Sailor’s record on-line (some reporters got his record wrong, so I don’t know what they rely on for information, because it’s easy enough to check). I certainly hope there is a system in place to provide responding officers with warning of prior acts of violence against police.
Because when somebody says, “I’m going to kill you” and “I don’t care about going back to prison,” after being released early, it’s not like they send the sentencing judge, or some parole board talking head to go round him up.
They send a police officer.