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Somer Thompson lived near 161 sex offenders. Is that number high?

Cities are passing laws restricting where sex offenders can live, forcing many to move into high-density clusters. But Somer Thompson's neighborhood was not one of them.

Family members of slain 7-year-old Somer Thompson hang a sign in the front yard of her home in Orange Park, Fla., Thursday.

Jake Roth/AP

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Authorities announced Thursday that they have found the body of seven-year-old Somer Thompson in a Georgia landfill 50 miles from her home. She was abducted Monday as she was walking home from school in Orange Park, Fla.

Police have said it was a homicide but have not reported any motives for the crime. They are interviewing convicted sex offenders living in Somer's community.

Florida's sexual offenders and predators registry, which is updated daily, shows 88 registered offenders live in Orange Park, and 161 offenders live within a five-mile radius of her home.

But experts say these figures are not out of the ordinary. With cities of all sizes increasingly limiting where sex offenders can reside, high-density clusters – sometimes with as many as 100 offenders living within one square mile – are becoming increasingly common.

"There are sex offenders living in all communities," says Jill Levenson, a professor of psychology at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., who specializes in studying sex-crimes policy.

The number of offenders in the area surrounding Somer's home "may seem like a lot, but where do we think they're going to be living?"

Local ordinances prohibiting sex offenders from settling near schools, day care centers, and parks can affect the density of offenders in a particular area – a relatively new phenomenon, says Corey Yung, a professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Sex offender clusters exist in some parts of Florida – though Orange Park does not qualify.


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