KIPLING, Saskatchewan – Canadian police recovered two missing boys early Wednesday at the farm hideout of a convicted pedophile, ending a search that sparked angry questions about the nation's sex offender registry.
The case led some groups to complain the public does not have enough information about sex offenders living in their midst.
Peter Whitmore, 35, of Toronto, was arrested at the farm in the western state of Saskatchewan following a 10-hour standoff broadcast live on national TV. The boys, ages 10 and 14, were found unharmed, police said.
Whitmore has been convicted four times for abduction and sexual abuse since 1993 and was released in June 2005 after a three-year jail term.
Police say he picked up the 14-year-old several weeks ago in the neighboring province of Manitoba and took him on a road trip west into Saskatchewan, where he allegedly kidnapped the 10-year-old.
Though details were still sketchy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the teenager apparently befriended the younger boy and the two went for a bike ride Sunday. The boy's parents reported him missing when he didn't come home.
Police got a tip Tuesday from someone who reported seeing a van that matched the description of Whitmore's 1988 blue Dodge Caravan with wood paneling and an Alberta license plate.
When police arrived at the farm, the boy ran from some brush. Police then surrounded the farm and negotiated with Whitmore to free the teenager. The teen came out of the farmhouse minutes later. Police then engaged in lengthy negotiations leading to Whitmore's surrender.
During the standoff, police blocked roads around the farm and at least 20 police cars converged on the area — along with TV news crews.
The search for the boys triggered a national outcry, and Justice Minister Vic Toews said he would like to see a broadening of the dangerous offender designation, which could allow judges to impose longer or tougher sentences.
Toews also said he wants the national sex offender registry to work better. "We have to examine to what extent we should be releasing more information to the public," he said.
Canada's newly elected Conservative government has vowed to introduce tougher criminal penalties. Among their plans are bills to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16; install a mandatory DNA databank for convicted sex offenders; remove the possibility of house arrest for sex offenders; and crack down on child pornographers.