Neighbors upset over sex offender home in Mesa

Posted at 7:40 PM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 21:40:46-05

People in one Mesa neighborhood are up in arms, ready to protest, after a halfway house for sex offenders opened up next door. The couple who owns the home says they are doing God's work, and they want to give the men a second chance. 

The home opened for business on November 21, off the Loop 202 and Power Road. It is located in the Desert Uplands neighborhood at 80th and Willetta streets.

Three sex offenders currently reside in the home. And the owners, Deborah and Steve Schmidt said they want more.

"We love them, we love them like family," said Deborah. "God doesn't draw the line there. He forgives all sins."

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office told ABC15 they did a check on the home to make sure the sex offenders are registered to live there, but that's the only involvement they've had in the whole process. 

The battle began when the Schmidt's sent out an invitation, inviting the neighborhood for a meet-and-greet to get to know the residents.

The whole situation has neighbors scared for their children and angry the home could even open up. 

"My daughter can't ride to her friend's house anymore because I don't know what’s going to happen here," said neighbor Chris Vogt. 

"I have two grandkids, a four year old and a one a half year old," said Joe Alsworth. "And I'm not going to have them over here anymore."

The Schmidt's claim they have experienced harassment, but they still plan to move forward.

"People are threatening to kill us, burn our house down, torture us and mutilate us," said Deborah. "It's amazing what good people will do."

Of the three men, Travis Deen Owens was convicted of sex abuse. And Michael Maurer is a convicted child molester. 

"We wish they would come over and get to know us and not just make a blanket judgment that everyone who has committed a sex crime is a horrible monster," said Deborah. 

The invite for the Saturday party will have some unwanted guests, as neighbors say they plan to protest in front of the home. 

"We are going to make them as uncomfortable as possible," said Vogt.

Maricopa County officials said the home is required to have a special use permit. As of Thursday night, they could not confirm if the Schmidt's have one. 

The neighbors have started a complaint with the zoning department. And zoning official said they will inspect the area and see if the home is in violation of zoning laws.

They expect to inspect in the neighborhood within the next 30 days.