Christopher Clements: How a convicted sex offender flew under the radar

TUCSON, Ariz. - We're getting a closer look at the man charged with the murders of two Tucson girls.  

Christopher Clements, 36, is a convicted sex offender -- now facing 22 felony charges -- including the murders of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzales.   

We've learned that Clements had a long criminal history that included sex crimes in other states -- dating back to when he was just 16 years old.

He popped up on the radar here in Tucson in 2007, but he didn't register as a sex offender.

"The real tragedy is we've never had a comprehensive approach to this," said attorney Steve Portell.

All states had sex offender registries operating, but in 2006 the Adam Walsh Act took it to a national level by creating a new federal crime for sex offenders, who travel to another state, to keep their registries current. 

But Portell says that states still needed a coordinated effort, which fell woefully short.

Clements argued that his conviction happened before 2006 before the law went into effect. In 2011, a federal appeals court reversed his sentencing.

Though the federal court ordered him to register in Arizona --he didn't. Clements is accused of kidnapping and killing Isabel Celis less than a year later and Maribel Gonzales a few years after Isabel vanished.

According to court documents, there are more than 100,000 sex offenders convicted before 2006, before the act, that have gone missing -- not tracked after moving to other states.

We'll continue to stay on top of this important issue.

MORE BACKGROUND:

Law enforcement officials announced Saturday that Clements, 36, is facing charges in the deaths of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzales. Those include two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping a minor, two counts of burglary and 14 separate counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. He's also facing a slew of child pornography-related charges.

He's currently in custody in Maricopa County jail on multiple fraud and burglary charges according to online court records -- but records of his criminal history go back much further.

Clements was charged and convicted in Oregon in 1998 of sex-related crimes and was required to register as a sex offender. He was charged and convicted in 2006 in Bay City, Florida, for failing to register, according to Florida law enforcement records.

He was also charged in 2008 in Tucson with failing to register as a sex offender. He was convicted and sentenced to serve 46 months in prison and five years of supervised release

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that sentence in 2011, finding that the federal law requiring him to register as a sex offender within three days of moving to a new home was passed after his 1998 conviction and therefore did not apply to his crime.

Now, Clements is accused of the murders of both Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzales.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus and other officials held a news conference to announce the indictment. But they declined to answer questions from reporters and did not disclose how the girls died or what prompted authorities to investigate Clements in the killings, except to say that the FBI in 2017 learned Clements might have information about the death of Celis.

He then provided information to authorities that led to the discovery of Celis' remains, Magnus said. Investigators later discovered additional pieces of evidence, but they did not describe Saturday what they had found.

Christopher Matthew Clements, now 36, was already locked up in Maricopa County on unrelated charges when Tucson Police arrested and charged him there.

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