St. Louis County cases raises concerns of stranger danger

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(CLAYTON, Mo., AP) — It was a parent’s nightmare — a stranger following a family home and molesting a child at knifepoint in her bed. Authorities say such a crime, which played out in St. Louis County last weekend, is exceedingly rare.

Still, the attack on an 11-year-old girl in the Mehlville area has raised concern about stranger danger.
Relatives told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1Oo830J) that the suspect, 40-year-old Larry Alverson, has serious psychological issues.
Alverson, of Belleville, Illinois, is a recent parolee. He was arrested Tuesday and is jailed on $1 million bail on charges of first-degree burglary, statutory sodomy of a child less than 12 years of age and other counts.
Neighbors said they were shaken by the crime. But Laura Palumbo, a spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, said studies show only about 7 percent of sexual abuse against juveniles is by strangers. More often, the assaults occur from people the child victim knows and trusts.
Alverson’s sister, Latecia Alverson, 41, of Columbus, Ohio, said her brother “really needs to be hospitalized and treated for his issues rather than jailed and medicated as he has been in the past.”
But in Illinois, where Alverson has an extensive criminal record, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly disagreed.
“Prison is, frankly, the best place for this person,” Kelly said.
Alverson was convicted in 1998 after entering a Belleville home “with intent to commit … criminal sexual assault,” according to court records, and served 3½ years in prison.
He was on parole when he was convicted of home invasion in 2002 for entering a 14-year-old girl’s bedroom in Belleville and trying to molest her in a bunk bed. The child’s screams alerted her mother’s boyfriend. Alverson spent nine years in prison for that crime.
Alverson was released last month on the condition that he wear an ankle monitor. Authorities say he cut it off.
On Friday, the 11-year-old girl was at a store with her mother. She told police she had felt uncomfortable when a man brushed against her twice inside the store. She saw that man get into a car in the parking lot and later saw the same car driving in her neighborhood.
The girl told police she was awakened about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. Saturday. Her brothers were in the same room. The girl said the attacker threatened to kill the siblings if they interfered.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said he could not recall such a brazen crime in his 29-year career.
The children did not tell their mother about the assault until late Saturday morning, saying they were concerned the attacker might still be in the house and kill them all.
The mother called 911 and took the girl to the hospital. Medical staff told police there were signs of sexual assault.
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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com.