Child molestation suspect lived in Wapato

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- KIMA is learning more about the 70-year-old man accused of molesting girls in Eastern Washington. Vernon Gillett was arrested in the Tri Cities, but he used to live in Yakima County.

Everyone Action News spoke with who lives on Central Avenue in Wapato seems to remember their old neighbor, Vernon Gillett. They showed us the house where they say he lived for about 20 years. Some of his old neighbors told us they weren't surprised to hear about his arrest.

An empty blue house triggers a lot of memories for neighbors on North Central Avenue about the last person who lived there, 70-year-old Gillett..

"Everybody knew him, everybody down the road," said Missy, a former neighbor to Gillett.

Neighbors say he used to give the local kids gifts, throw parties for them and ride bikes down the street with them. They emphasized how much he wanted to spend time with younger children.

"They always had to be younger kids and there was just something not right about that," said Missy.

"I always thought something was funny," said Emma Keeth, a former neighbor to Gillett.

Missy doesn't want to have her full name posted, but lived a few houses down the street from Gillett for years.

"Every time you'd see him, you'd want to turn your back, you didn't want to be around him," said Missy.

Neighbors say he was a social guy, but gave them bad feelings.

"Not right, like you would get that funny feeling about something," said Missy.

Records from the Yakima County Sheriff's Office show Gillett last lived here in 2006. People here say there was a lot of talk about why he left back then.

"He left suddenly because of rumors he was watching and molesting little girls over here," said Keeth.

Police in Kennewick say they aren't dealing with rumors. They accuse him of promising girls money and gifts to have sex with him. Court records say the girls targeted were three to 13 years old. Investigators are checking to see if there is a trail of victims in Yakima County.

"Disgusted. Not surprised, but disgusted," said Missy.

"I'm surprised and yet I'm not surprised," said Keeth.

Neighbors worry about any children around here who could have been victims. And, hope for justice in the end.

Action News called the Wapato Police Department several times for any records they have on Gillett, but our calls were not returned. Neighbors told us they reported him to the police while he lived there. Thursday evening, Gillett remains in the Benton County Jail,