Crime

Police: Sex offender enters Bellingham homes, fondles teen

Matthew Luke Humphreys, 32, a level III sex offender.
Matthew Luke Humphreys, 32, a level III sex offender. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Bellingham sex offender broke into two homes to masturbate in front of a stranger and to sexually touch a young man last week, according to charges filed late Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Matthew Luke Humphreys, 32, a Level III sex offender, was released from a state prison in Monroe on Oct. 1, according to the state Department of Corrections. Around 3 o’clock the next morning, he opened the unlocked front door of an apartment in the 1000 block of York Street in Bellingham and walked inside, charging papers allege.

A 62-year-old woman who lives there ordered the man, a stranger, to leave. Instead, Humphreys sat down on a chair, put his hands down his dark gray sweatpants and masturbated, according to the charges. The man then pulled down his pants. He asked the woman if she was “old school,” a remark that’s not explained further in charging papers, and asked how old she was. Humphreys fled when the woman called 911, according to police.

Forty minutes later, as patrol officers searched the neighborhood, Humphreys broke into a two-story house on Gladstone Street that’s roughly 500 feet, as the crow flies, west of the York Street apartment, police said. The intruder crept into the bedroom of a young man, a teenage college student, who later reported the stranger knelt down and started fondling the teen’s genitals. The teen was “so terrified he was unable to open his eyes and pretended he was asleep,” according to the charges.

Afterward the intruder got up and rummaged through the bedroom. He stole a backpack, keys, an ID card and a debit card, then left, according to police. The young man dialed 911 at 4:06 a.m.

Hours later officers were alerted to a man trying to use a debit card — the teen’s card, police said — to buy a few things from a gallery in the 300 block of West Holly Street.

The man did not know the card’s pin number. He had a “tear drop tattoo,” wore a black hat, a gray zip-up sweatshirt, and dark gray sweatpants, as the woman on York Street had described Humphreys earlier, according to the charges. Two uniformed officers walked up to the suspect. Once he saw them, he ran — about a quarter-mile, through parking lots, down an embankment, dropping things as he went, court papers say.

Police caught him kneeling behind a trash bin, said Bellingham Police Sgt. Mike Scanlon. Officers retraced the path of the chase to find he’d ditched about a half-gram of methamphetamine, and property that belonged to the teen on Gladstone Street: his driver’s license, his student ID card, a debit card and keys.

Humphreys has been charged with six felonies: burglary in the first degree with a sexual motivation; residential burglary with a sexual motivation; indecent exposure with a previous sex offense conviction; unlawful possession of meth; possession of stolen property in the second degree; and for the alleged touching of the teen, assault in the fourth degree with a sexual motivation.

Humphreys has a history of sex crimes dating back to 1999, when he sexually assaulted a sleeping girl, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office sex offender database. Since then he’s been in and out of jail for felony theft, felony drug crimes, attempting to elude and vehicle theft.

He’s been convicted of eight felonies, the latest of which for having unwanted sexual contact with a neighbor in December 2007.

At the time Humphreys lived in a trailer park on Axton Road. He drunkenly went over to the woman’s home around 1 a.m. to apologize for causing a disturbance a week earlier, when he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend. Humphreys started making sexual advances toward the neighbor, a woman in her 50s, and he would not listen when she said she wasn’t interested. She called police while he was in another room, and sheriff’s deputies arrived to find him on top of her, his pants down. He tried to run when he saw police. They arrested him, and he pleaded guilty a few months later to indecent liberties without force.

Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig sentenced him to 6 ½ years in prison. Humphreys finished serving that sentence in July 2014.

Humphreys is registered as a Level III sex offender, meaning he’s the kind most likely to offend again. He has violated his probation several times in the past year, said Andrew Garber, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections. The latest violation landed him in the Monroe state prison until last week.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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