A convicted child predator, whose proposed home was destroyed in a suspicious fire, has been released and is living in motels in Fresno County.
Jeffrey Snyder, 61, was released Monday from Coalinga State Hospital and placed in the custody of Liberty Healthcare, according to the Fresno County district attorney’s office.
Liberty, the contractor hired to supervise Snyder 24 hours a day, and the California Department of State Hospitals looked at 1,749 homes in Fresno County as possible residences for him.
But none of the homes were deemed suitable for Snyder, a sexually violent predator convicted seven times of molesting children, the district attorney’s office said in a statement. With few options remaining, authorities had to house Snyder in motels.
The subject of Snyder’s housing has been contentious one for Fresno County residents. Under the law, he must be relocated in Fresno County, because that is where he was prosecuted.
A county judge previously rejected a bid to move him to northwest Fresno after owners of nearly 300 properties declined to rent to him, the Fresno Bee reported.
In January, authorities thought they had finally found housing for Snyder. But before he could move into the home, a court hearing was required to be held for public comment.
So that month, the district attorney’s office and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office announced the court hearing discussing his placement on the rural property.
The announcements included details about the proposed 756-square-foot, two-bedroom home and its address in Squaw Valley, an area in southwest Fresno County.
In a Facebook post, the Sheriff’s Office urged Squaw Valley residents to speak up to stop Snyder’s placement in their community.
“It's important to note that this same person was scheduled to be moved into a northwest Fresno neighborhood last year, but residents fought back and stopped him from moving in. Now the people of Squaw Valley have an opportunity to speak up,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote.
Days after the announcements, Snyder’s proposed home was destroyed in a suspicious fire.
Fire officials said the timing of the blaze raised some flags.
The cause of the fire was never determined, said Capt. Jeremiah Wittwer, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for Fresno County.
Investigators were “not able to rule out the cause of electrical or arson,” he said.
Snyder has been in and out of prison since 1979, when he was found to be “a mentally disordered sex offender.” According to the district attorney’s office, Snyder’s victims were males 8 to 17.
After he was released from prison, Snyder was sent to Coalinga State Hospital, where he was receiving sex-offender treatment.
In March, a Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled that while Snyder still met the criteria of a sexually violent predator, he was eligible for outpatient treatment only through a conditional release. In June, the county judge ordered his release.
On conditional release, Snyder must wear a GPS ankle bracelet and attend sex offender treatment.
Because Snyder doesn’t have a permanent residence, he must register as a transient sex offender with local police and check in every 30 days, said Tony Botti, a sheriff’s spokesman. Other sex offenders who have permanent home addresses register on a yearly basis.
Records showed that Snyder registered Tuesday as a sex offender with the Fresno Police Department, Botti said.
If he violates the conditions of his release, he could be sent back to Coalinga State Prison.
Meanwhile, the search for permanent housing for Snyder continues.
When a suitable home is found, prosecutors said, a court hearing will be held for public comment.
On Wednesday, Snyder’s attorney, Curtis Sok, said he was worried about his client and hoped that he would recover.
“While I fear for his safety and well-being after his release, I hope he would be a constructive and contributing member of out society, and the community will eventually accept and support his reintegration to our society as it would for any recovering and rehabilitated addict or ex-felon,” he said.