WHEELING - Parents of young children living on Wheeling Island said they were shocked and horrified that Shelton Cash, a convicted murderer and alleged sex offender, was living in their neighborhood at a Youth Services System facility for months.
West Virginia State Police arrested Cash, 44, of Elkview, W.Va., on Tuesday on charges of possession of child pornography. He had a cell phone containing multiple images of himself engaged in sex acts with a 12-year-old girl, court documents state.
"That's disgusting - being this close to the school and having disgusting people like that here," said one woman, who was waiting for her son outside of Madison Elementary School. She and her 5- and 7-year-old boys moved to Wheeling Island from Elm Grove about five months ago.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
The Wheeling Community Childcare Center playground sits next to a Youth Services System-owned building, shown in the background, where a convicted murdered and alleged sex offender was living for three months.
Cash had been living at the facility on Indiana Street for about three months, according to YSS Executive Director John Moses. The agency sometimes offers that building to homeless people searching for housing. Moses said YSS does not conduct background checks on any homeless people it offers assistance to, including Cash.
Cash had no history of sex offenses, but in1992 he was convicted of first-degree murder in Kanawha County. He served 16 years in prison and was paroled in 2008.
"That's not right, they should do (background checks)," said Carolyn Edge, whose 8- and 9-year-old grandchildren live and attend school on Wheeling Island. "Anywhere there are children around, they should be doing background checks."
While executing a search warrant at the building, officers also discovered a loaded handgun under the pillow on Cash's bed.
The building Cash was living in served as the rectory of nearby Blessed Trinity Catholic Church. The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston sold the building, as well as the church, to YSS in June 2011.
Julie Kepreos, a mother of 7- and 9-year-olds, recalled starting a petition protesting YSS's purchase of the building. She shook her head at the agency's lack of oversight.
Moses said Cash reached out to YSS for assistance. He was not aware, however, that Cash worked locally for a mining company during the week. On the weekends, Cash returned to Kanawha County, where the alleged sex acts occurred.
Sherri Calissie knows there are registered sex offenders living on Wheeling Island, but she was chilled by the allegations against Cash.
"Wow, that's terrible," said Calissie, a mother of 6- and 11-year-old girls. "There are kids everywhere, and there's a lot of little kids walking to school by themselves."
The building Cash was living in also sits right next to the YSS-operated Wheeling Community Childcare Center on North Huron Street, a day care service for 2- to 12-year-olds. Moses did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.