Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Mullen, Sex Offender Vigilante

School Days

North Dakota State University
North Dakota State University

A week after he was released from prison, Duncan arrived in Fargo, where he enrolled at North Dakota State University to study computer software engineering.

As required by state law, Duncan registered with the local police department, which evaluated his crimes, treatment and punishment and assigned him a Level III rating, the most dangerous and likely to re-offend. On Sept. 27, 2000, nearly 300 people attended a "sexual offender notification meeting" about Duncan in Fargo. The local newspaper, the Fargo Forum, reported the meeting and Duncan's background with two separate stories totaling about 2,000 words.

But the commotion blew over, and Duncan apparently managed to live a quiet life, renting an apartment on 7th Street, a mile from campus. Fargo cops visited him once every three months to update his photograph.

Police Chief Chris Magnus called him "almost a model offender." He was polite to the officers, although he groused about the visits on his Weblog. Professors, staff members and fellow students in the computer science department found him to be conscientious and hardworking. He was hired as a programmer in the computer department, and he was on the verge of graduating with honors earlier this year.

Police Chief Chris Magnus
Police Chief Chris Magnus

"I figured he was just getting his life back together," Kendall Nygard, the department chairman, told the Spokesman-Review. "He seemed to be under control. He seemed normal."

But on Fourth of July weekend in 2004, a stranger had turned up on a school playground in Detroit Lakes, Minn., 45 miles east of Fargo. He pulled down the pants of a 6-year-old boy and fondled him.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'