First impressions can tell us a lot about a person. However, first impressions are, unfortunately, not always very accurate.
In early 2019, a Florida homeless shelter took in a man who they believed to be a kind soul in need of a little help. Yet while trying to help him get back on his feet, they learned the hard way that you can’t trust everyone after discovering a child predator was in their midst…
The Kearney Center
For the past several years, the Kearney Center in Tallahassee, Florida, has been working tirelessly to help the homeless population in the area. Their mission is to provide temporary emergency shelter and care and to eventually end homelessness in the region.
“The Kearney Center provides 24-hour comprehensive emergency services to individuals experiencing or on-the-verge of experiencing homelessness within the Big Bend (8-county) region,” the center, which is located just minutes away from the Florida State University campus, explains on their site.
An Entry Point
“This facility serves as a point of entry into assistance by coordinating services and responding to the immediate needs of individuals and families until appropriate permanent housing can be arranged,” the Kearney Center said about their individualized approach.
“Our mission is to provide temporary emergency shelter and housing-focused services, with the goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. In service to this mission, we are committed to providing a safe environment that promotes dignity and respect.”
According to Monique Ellsworth, a representative for the Kearney Center, the center normally gets about 10 new clients every day. In 2018 alone, the center managed to help more than 3,000 people. In order to get those life-changing services, however, every one of those clients would have been processed into their database with their personal information.
Ellsworth, who is also the executive director of the Comprehensive Emergency Services Center, the parent company of the Kearney Center, explained that every person who enters the center in need of their services gets processed first before they can receive help.
That processing procedure normally takes about 25 to 35 minutes. During that time, the staff runs a new client’s personal information through a nationwide database. So when a 46-year-old man came into the center in early February of 2019, the staff ran his information into the database.
According to Ellsworth, nothing came back when they entered Garrick Landon Bloom’s name and information through the nationwide database. “When we did run his name it was not yet in that database,” Ellsworth told WCTV about the new client.
Two Days Later
With his processing procedure complete, the staff at the center started treating the homeless 46-year-old. Two days later, however, several US Marshals stormed into the center demanding to know where Bloom was being kept without any explanation about what they wanted.
A Confusing Scene
“I saw all the Marshals come in and they took him out in handcuffs and I wondered what he did,” Kendra Gude, who had been in the center at the time of Bloom’s arrest, told WCTV. Shortly after, everyone at the center learned that Bloom hadn’t actually been homeless.
A Wanted Man
Bloom was just pretending to be homeless to get shelter in the center. In reality, he was a wanted man from Pennsylvania and was on the run from authorities. However, everyone was shocked when they learned what the seemingly harmless 46-year-old was wanted for.
According to authorities from the US Marshals Service, Bloom was originally from Shippenville, Pennsylvania. He had been wanted and was arrested for 865 counts of child rape. He had been on the run ever since a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The Criminal Record
Court records from Pennsylvania show that Bloom has a criminal background that dates back to about 2001. In one previous charge, the 46-year-old pleaded guilty to assaulting a victim under the age of 12 years old. The newer charges, however, only came to the police’s attention in late 2018.
On October 25, 2018, Clarion-based State Police learned that a juvenile male, whose name and identity is being protected from the public, was the victim of sexual assault. According to the tip, which was reported by the Clarion County Children and Youth Services, the boy was being sexually assaulted by Bloom.
The Truth Comes Out
When investigators spoke to the boy, he claimed that Bloom had forced him to perform oral sex on the 46-year-old on numerous occasions. During the investigation, however, authorities learned that the assault had been going on for much longer than they first believed.
Denying The Assault
Court records show that Bloom had been grooming the boy since he was just five years old. The boy was then forced to endure Bloom’s sexual assaults for several years. When investigators first approached Bloom about the accusations, he denied that he had anything to do with the crimes.
At a later point, however, Bloom finally admitted he had been sexually assaulting the boy. On January 16, 2019, a warrant was issued for Blooms’ arrest at Magisterial District Judge Amy Long Turk’s office. The charges were overwhelming both by their number and nature.
Bloom had been charged with 216 counts of rape of a child, 216 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, 216 counts of aggravated indecent assault of a child, 216 counts of statutory sexual assault, and a count of endangering the welfare of a child.
Unfortunately, Bloom had already fled the area by the time the warrant had been issued. He was finally tracked down after authorities received a tip that Bloom had possibly fled to the Tallahassee area. He is now being held in the Leon County Detention Facility and will be sent back to Pennsylvania pending extradition. If found guilty of his numerous crimes, Bloom faces more than 15,000 years in prison.
An Eye-Opening Experience
“That’s a high traffic area for children getting off school buses,” Deputy Commander Marty West told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Having a predator like that hanging around Tallahassee, it would have only been a matter of time.” Meanwhile, workers at the Kearney Center are still stunned that they had a child predator in their midst.