CFA Investigation: Killers hidden in our prison system

Published: May. 12, 2016 at 11:08 PM MDT
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On a terrible night two years ago, a man brutally murdered a mother and her two kids in Canon City.

Jaacob VanWinkle received three life sentences for the heinous act.

Jim Stotler, the victims' father and grandfather, was signed up for alerts any time VanWinkle was moved. One day, he received an alert that said, "Current location: Interstate Correction Compact Transfer."

"They said he'd been moved. We asked where he'd been moved...and we were basically told it's none of our business, and we'll never know or hear from where he's at again," Stotler said.

Which, as Katie Pelton first reported this week, state prison systems have every right to do because of something called an Interstate Compact Agreement (ICA), which lets states trade prisoners and keep their location a secret.

"I think it's horribly wrong," Stotler said. "The criminal commits the murders, they destroy the families, and then [prisons] turn around and say, 'You don't have a right to know what's going on with them and you don't have a right to know where they're at.'

"The victim's rights take second seat to the criminal rights."

VanWinkle's far from the only one. Austin Sigg, who kidnapped and killed 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway in 2012, is also hidden in the prison system.

And the whereabouts of one of Colorado's highest-profile killers to date, James Holmes, are unknown.

The state prison system will not comment on these offenders.

They say prisoners can be moved for several reasons, including high-profile cases and safety issues.

But grieving families want to know: what about the victims?

"I think that we should have the right to know we're safe," Stotler said.

Click the link on this page to watch the full investigation.