• Mesa neighborhood holds protest against sex offender halfway house

    MESA, AZ – A Mesa neighborhood gathered together Wednesday night to protest a halfway house for sex offenders near Loop 202 and Power Road.

    The Schmidt couple, who owns the home, was told to cease and desist all operations in December, as they did not have the proper special use permit to set up a group care facility.

    The Schmidt’s put their house on the market for sale. As a deal was about to close, they pulled out of the sale.

    Currently one sex offender and one man on probation live at the home.

    “It is disturbing to me to know this is a block and a half away from where I live,” said protestor Joan Larson.

    Another woman who does not live in the neighborhood heard about the protest and came out to share her story.

    “I was a victim when I was eight years old, so it hits home,” said Ashley Braun.

    One young couple brought their four-year-old daughter to show who they believe is most at risk.

    “It’s pure torture,” said Cynthia Kleinman. “It tears me apart there are people living around us like that.”

    Deborah and Steve Schmidt tell ABC15 they took their home off the market, because they can’t find another location for the men.

    “We are really waiting for God to direct us in what to do,” said Deborah. “Right now we feel strongly that he wants us to stay here.”

    The Schmidt’s confirmed they do have the one sex offender Travis Owens living with them. They also said the man on probation was convicted of sex crimes, but did not disclose more.

    One of the neighbors, Carla Jetton, tried to buy the house and had a closed door meeting with the couple for the first time tonight.

    “She says she looks everywhere for somewhere to go,” said Jetton. “So if we can find her somewhere to go, I am still happy to buy the house.”

    The blue balloons lifted into the sky, as this neighborhood said the fight is far from over.

    The county has a new investigation open on the house and officials said there is no conclusion yet. The county also confirmed that no new application has been submitted for a special use permit.


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