North Carolina Sex Offender Registry, Northern Neck Regional Jail and U.S. Marshal Service
From left, Matthew Stager in 1999 or 2000, 2012, and 2017.
Matthew Stager doesn't like to be nailed down. While slowly amassing a face full of tattoos over the past two decades, he's spent time in Virginia, North Carolina, California and Texas among other places.
“I've been on the streets for a while,” the convicted sex offender told a federal judge in 2013. “I'm just a hobo, a traveler, roamer, and that's pretty much it.”
Police arrested Stager Wednesday in Washington D.C., one day after the U.S. Marshals asked the public for help finding him.
The 45-year-old felon was released Feb. 2 from the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg. Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Leuer said Stager was taken to the Richmond International Airport and told to fly to Austin, Texas, where he was to self report later in the day to a halfway house. He never got on his plane.
Stager was arrested without incident about 4 p.m. after the U.S. Marshals received numerous tips indicating he was in Washington. The Metropolitan Police Department spotted him walking near the D.C. Superior Court.
Stager is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals in Washington. He is expected to be transferred to Richmond, where he will face an escape charge.
Stager's record includes convictions for assault, theft and defacing public property, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in 1999 in Lincoln County, N.C., to one count of indecent liberties with a minor girl.
Since that conviction, Stager has had trouble keeping his sex offender registration up to date. Court records reveal he’d been arrested and jailed at least eight other times for that.
One judge sentenced him to serve four years in prison for failing to register. Then, in 2013, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas sentenced Stager to another five.
Stager was finishing up that federal sentence when he disappeared in Petersburg, en route to a halfway house where he would be able to obtain some employment counseling and other services.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Board of Prisons said federal inmates "do not typically move from facility to facility without supervision," but she said it can happen under limited circumstances where an inmate is granted a short furlough. That is what was happening with Stager.
"The only inmates allowed to move without supervision are considered minimal risk or they are moving to (a halfwayhouse) and as such are transitioning to the community shortly before completing their sentence," said Jill Tyson, the spokeswoman.
Most of Stager's facial tattoos appear to have been obtained in prison.
A photo included on the North Carolina Sex Offender registry – apparently from 1999 or 2000 – shows Stager with only one facial tattoo near his left eye. He also had a piecing between his mouth and chin.
A photo from 2012 when he was arrested in Virginia on a Texas warrant shows a tattoo on his forehead and near his right ear, as well as two tattoos on his neck and one on his upper chest.
A photo released Tuesday by the U.S. Marshals shows a face and neck covered in tattoos.
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