In mid-September, a sex offender moved into a quiet Camden County neighborhood.
Convicted of sexually assaulting a 3-year-old Atlantic City boy in 1989, the man served a long jail sentence and spent time in a psychiatric hospital. Last year, he was released to live in a Voorhees group home, where he continued to receive treatment.
By now the neighbors all know about Donald Bailey, but they didn't learn about him through official channels.
They were alerted by an anonymously written flyer stuffed in their mailboxes. Yesterday, many still wondered why police had not officially notified them that a high-risk sex offender lived among them.
But very soon, Voorhees police won't need to notify anyone. Bailey's moving out.
It could happen as soon as Tuesday, said Theresa C. Wilson, president of South Jersey Behavioral Health Resources, the private agency that runs the group home.
While he lived at the Homer Avenue house, Bailey kept a low profile, Wilson said.
"He doesn't even go outside," Wilson said. "He's scared to go out."
A woman across the street yesterday threatened to sic her two rottweilers on him if he stepped too close to her yard. She would not give her name.
Still, Bailey's decision to leave was difficult, Wilson said. His destination was not released.
Bailey has made close friendships with the house's six other residents, and he considers it his first real home in more than 20 years. But his caseworker, Deborah Chisolm, said Bailey decided he had caused enough turmoil in the neighborhood.
"He's been saying, 'I just want to do what I have to do to get better and move on,' " Chisolm said.
Before Bailey moved into the home on Sept. 19, Wilson said caseworkers met with neighbors at a doughnut shop to explain Bailey's history and treatment.
"We listened to their concerns, and told them to call us if they had any problems," Wilson said.
Wilson said they were "blindsided" by the strong reaction that came in the wake of the flyer, and the news coverage that followed.
Police say they did not notify local residents because Bailey's appeal of his offender status was pending.
In the end, Wilson said, a nearby elementary school and an unregistered day-care operation also played a role in the decision to move.
Alicia Correll runs the day-care facility in her home, where she supervises five children "only yards from his house," she said. Correll said she was surprised when she first learned Bailey was living 150 yards away.
"We've always known there was a group home there," she said as children clattered in the background, "but we believed it was for mentally ill people who couldn't care for themselves, not ex-criminals."
Because the day-care center is unregistered, it did not initially come up in a check by the group home's administrators, Wilson said. Correll said she was in the process of getting it properly registered.
An elementary school is about a half-mile away.
"We had a map charted out and we were technically right on the line," Wilson said. "I didn't want him to risk a violation of his parole."