CHAMBERS COUNTY, AL (WTVM) – A Chambers County family says a man convicted of raping and sodomizing an 11-year-old girl tried to lure two young girls into the woods and they had no idea he even lived nearby. Now, they are making it their mission to make sure everyone knows he's in the neighborhood.
Darryl McClellan can't stop thinking about what could have happened had his granddaughter not known the dangers of strangers.
"The girls were playing on their trampoline and he came up and tried to get the girls to come into the woods and play with him, they said, 'No!', and he said, 'Get into the woods now!' and they turned and ran, " said McClellan.
The girl's parents and grandparents were nearby and say they saw the man's face as they chased him through the woods, but he got away.
Soon after, police say they identified Bobby Hall as a suspect. He lives nearby and is a registered sex offender. Officers say the children's parents picked Hall out of a lineup.
Investigators charged Hall with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both misdemeanors.
Chief Tommy Weldon says "We wish we could have charged him with a felony but according to the DA's office the events did not reach the level of a felony and that contributing to the delinquency of a minor was the appropriate charge."
McClellan is outraged Hall isn't facing felony charges. He also says he didn't know a sex offender lived so close by.
"The Sheriff's Office has the responsibility of notifying residents in this case, those that lived within 1,500 feet of where Mr. Hall was residing were notified by mail," says McClellan.
Police say McClellan was not notified because he lives outside the 1,500 feet notification perimeter.
McClellan says until the laws are changed, he will be doing his own neighborhood notification in the form on this 8-by-4 foot sign in his front yard.
Bobby Hall, the suspect, agreed to an interview but asked that we not show his face. He says the sign has already brought him too much attention.
Reporter Elizabeth White: "Police said you tried to lure two young girls into the woods?"
Suspect Bobby Hall: "I don't want to say nothing. It's going to come out in court."
Reporter Elizabeth White: "But, you say you are innocent of that?"
Suspect Bobby Hall: "I am innocent. I was at work, I work 12 hours. Why would I go through the woods -- I'm scared of snakes?"
Hall says he was wrongly convicted previously of rape and sodomy, but as a registered sex offender he says he follows all the rules and regulations.
Hall says, "It's embarrassing to me, I go into the store and people see me and think I'm guilty. I did 15 years from 1992-2001. Since I've been out I haven't bothered [anybody]."
The McClellan family says they have no intention of taking the sign down. They say it's a warning to the community to be on alert and a plea to parents to talk to their daughters and sons.
"She screamed and she run, she said 'No!' They did what we taught them to do. These two little girls are my heroes," says Pam McClellan, grandmother.
The family says the sign will remain up in their front yard until Hall moves out or goes back to jail.