On Monday morning, the Associated Press published a report about nine sex offenders living on state-owned land in Marietta.
By the afternoon, news organizations from CNN to the local paper came through the camp, looking to pick up the story. And all that scrutiny was making campers nervous.
“I’m very worried I’ll end up in jail because of all this attention,” Marque Miechurski, told GPB. The 30-year-old continued, "CNN has been here, WSB [TV] has been here. People aren’t going to be happy.”
Now, the small group of homeless sex offenders has been ordered to move from the makeshift camp in a densely wooded area behind a suburban office park.
Probation officers had initially directed the sex offenders to the camp. The officers said it was a location of last resort for the sex offenders who are barred from living in many areas by one of the nation's toughest sex offender policies.
Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said the decision to make the sex offenders move was made by the Georgia Department of Transportation - the owner of the property. Warren said he did not know where the sex offenders would go next.
Miechurski and others say they had no where else to go when landing in the camp, and worried they could end up in jail for violating their probation. According to court documents, Miechurski was convicted of child molestation in October 2008.
With four years left until he can remove himself from the registry, Miechurski said he is just trying to get through this period of his life and move on.
“This is the last place I can stay, I’ve been everywhere else, and if this is taken from me, I’ll have no where to go but jail… Although, being stuck here is a lot like being in jail, just on the outside,” Miechurski said.
In Cobb County, registered sex offenders are barred from living within 1,000 feet of schools, churches and parks where there might be children. Out of work, broke and without family, Miechurski said a probation officer told him about the camp.
“I won’t say who, but I came to them and told them I couldn’t find a place in compliance, and they told me about this place. The sheriff’s office can check up on us, they come three to four times a month, and my probation officer knows I’m back here.”
County and city officials did not return calls for comment. The AP article quotes Ahmed Holt, manager of the state's sex offender administration unit, as saying the camp is a “last resort” for homeless sexual offenders.
According to signs at the edge of the land, the men and woman at the camp are trespassing on state property. But Miechurski is worried he is violating his probation by living there with other homeless offenders.
“They told me I can’t associate with felons. Well, what do you call it when I’m camping out every night with them?”
Contributors: Associated Press