Some parents in west Sanford are expressing concern on social media and in private after learning that a convicted child molester who spent several years evading authorities had moved into their neighborhood upon his release from prison:
The above Facebook screenshot shows parole information for a Robert Trent Burkey, who was recently released from a Texas prison after serving eight years of a 12-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault on a child under 12 years old. The poster expressed concern that Burkey went for “an evening stroll after seeing all the kids playing outside.” Dozens of people reacted to, commented on, and shared the post.
Sources tell the Rant that multiple families in the west Sanford neighborhood received an email from state authorities, in accordance with state law, alerting them that Burkey had recently moved to a home on Jasany Drive.
Convicted sex offenders relocating upon their release from prison isn’t uncommon – the state’s sex offender registry shows several living in Sanford – but Burkey’s case appears to be unique in that he spent roughly as long running from the Texas authorities who charged him with molesting the young daughters of a one-time romantic interest as he did in prison.
Burkey, who apparently has family in the area, was the subject of this WRAL segment from 2008, which sought information about his location while he was on the run. According to WRAL, he had moved to Texas in the early 2000s and became involved with a young mother while his then-wife was dying of cancer. The segment reported that he was accused by authorities in Fort Worth in 2002 of molesting the two young girls, as well as with possessing child pornography, but managed after collecting a life insurance payout upon his ex-wife’s death to flee before his trial.
It’s unclear when and where exactly Burkey was apprehended, or of which charges he was eventually convicted, but this link indicates that he began a 12 year sentence at a prison in Dayton, Texas in 2010.
Authorities confirmed to the Rant that the information in the SBI’s email is authentic, that Burkey had checked in with them upon his parole as required, and that he would be monitored as any other registered sex offender.