Sex-offender arrested after attempting to fake death to avoid registration

MESA, AZ – In a surprising turn of events, a man in Arizona was taken into custody earlier this week for allegedly staging his own death to evade his obligation to register as a sex offender, as per the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. The man, identified as Benjamin Hollins, 50, was originally convicted as a sex offender over two decades ago in California. He was apprehended on Tuesday when Chandler Police Department officers discovered him residing in a Mesa, Arizona home under a false name.

The reasons why the police were searching for Hollins or how they stumbled upon him were not disclosed by the sheriff’s office. By 2018, Hollins had relocated to Arizona City and neglected to register as a sex offender beyond California, as revealed by a Facebook post from the sheriff’s office. He was employed as a behavioral health counselor during this period.

While working in this role, Hollins abducted and attempted to sexually abuse a 16-year-old client. Following a plea deal, he was sentenced to supervised probation, which mandated him to register as a sex offender annually. He, however, did not comply with this requirement and purportedly faked his death in October 2023, as stated by the sheriff’s office.

A woman, whose identity remains undisclosed, reported to the police that she had seen Hollins commit suicide by leaping off the bridge at the Theodore Roosevelt Lake Dam, situated between Gila and Maricopa counties. Sheriff Mark Lamb expressed his frustration over the wasted resources used in the unsuccessful search for Hollins’ body, which was never found because he was, in fact, alive.

Upon being located in Mesa, it was discovered that Hollins was cohabiting with a family with young children, all of whom were unaware of his past. Hollins’ obligation to register as a sex offender had ceased when he was presumed “dead.” Sheriff Lamb addressed Hollins’ arrest in a short video shared on Facebook on Thursday, assuring that Hollins would be held accountable for his actions. Hollins is set to appear in court on Tuesday.