June 9, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.

Felon's release here generates questions

Felon's release here generates questions
Felon's release here generates questions

Lakes Area Chief of Police Kevin Stenson tried to reassure audience members attending the community notification meeting June 2 on a Level III sex offender. Chief Stenson said local police and Chisago County courts services agents are experienced in supervised-release cases and they have the resources necessary to stay on top of the offender's activities.

The four probation agents assigned to supervise the Level II offender Thomas Stanton are very good at their job, Chief Stenson added, "They'll be on top of this and so will we."

Not everybody was buying it. Citizens asked why a newly-released offender is coming to live where there are no post secondary schools, vo-tech colleges or other educational opportunities. Where is he going to find employment, they wondered.

Stanton, previously known by the name Thomas Bookwalter, is being released from the Stillwater Correctional Facility June 7; after serving about two-thirds of a 27-year sentence for attempted murder and rape. As a designated Level III sex offender the community meeting was provided under state notice law.

Stanton (Bookwalter) was 25 years old when he last lived in Chisago County. He was imprisoned after a jury convicted him of attempting to kill, raping and assaulting a 44-year-old Stacy woman, in May of 1992.

Bookwalter (Stanton) hid inside the victim's van and waited until after she got gas at Tim's Country Cupboard before making his presence known. Threatening her at knifepoint he ordered her, as she exited the Stacy convenience store, to drive east to a remote part of Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area where he sexually assaulted her. She was then forced to move the vehicle (to near Kost Dam Park) where she was beaten severely with a heavy club/stick and left alone. He stole the van, which was recovered at the Stacy Municipal Bar parking lot.

Flyers with Bookwalter's (Stanton's) description brought in many tips and local authorities apprehended Stanton within three days. He was held without bail until he was tried and convicted in December 1992.

Stanton is being released shy of serving the full sentence, which is common practice in Minnesota, the meeting facilitator Michele Murphy told the audience. Murphy said Stanton continues to be supervised until he is no longer "under sentence" which goes out to July 2019.

Bookwalter's change of name to Stanton is allowed under state laws. A Department of Corrections official told the Press state statutes allow a felon to do a name change under the condition the prosecuting official on the sentenced offense signs-off on the request.

Conditions of his supervision will evolve, the notification meeting audience was told.

At this time Stanton is under a daytime curfew, he is being tracked by GPS device and wears a monitoring unit on his ankle. Agent Nick Sandquist said the electronic home monitoring may be eliminated after a certain time if Stanton behaves.

He is also ordered to be getting treatment and to be "productively" engaged either getting an education or seeking employment/working, Sandquist said.

Bookwalter's sister stood during the public meeting and said the family is going to do whatever it can to help get him employed and on his feet. She added, this is uncharted territory the family is entering. There's some fear and concern, but the hope is that he will soon be able to move out of the small apartment he has arranged (Dept. of Corrections pays the first month's rent) and begin a new life at middle-age.


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