Keys sex offender was too close to trick-or-treaters, cops say

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies in the Florida Keys say they were concerned when a registered sex offender who is known to them was spotted hanging out near a group of children trick-or-treating Thursday evening.

As one deputy neared the man on Dolphin Drive in the city of Marathon, he took off running, and the chase ended with George Stemage, 43, leaping into a residential canal, police say.

Stemage, who has a long criminal history in the Keys going back the 1990s, registered as a sex offender in 2016 after being convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child between the ages of 12 and 15.

Around 6:50 p.m., Deputy Garrett Brass was working trick-or-treat safety detail and saw Stemage “in an area where many children were participating in Halloween festivities,” sheriff’s office spokesman Adam Linhardt said.

Stemage ran away toward Aviation Boulevard when he saw Brass approach him. Brass chased after him and was joined by several other deputies. They caught up with him on Yellowtail and Grouper drives, where he jumped into the canal rather than give up, Linhardt said.

Eventually, a deputy convinced him to get out of the water, and he was arrested, Linhardt said.

As of Friday afternoon, Stemage was in county jail on Stock Island on a obstruction without violence charge. His bond information was not immediately available.

David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Before joining the Herald, he covered Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.