Sex offender pulls knife in store, ends up in jail

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2007

Joe Dennis knew something was wrong when he received the all manager's call at Three Bears Market around 4:20 p.m. Aug. 9. Sure enough, when he came downstairs, he discovered an intoxicated Melvin Joe, 51, and another drunk man, eating store merchandise and making a mess.

"They took a couple little bags of candy off the shelf and were leaving wrappers all over the place," said Dennis, the first assistant store manager at Three Bears. "They were extremely belligerent and I said you guys need to leave."

Dennis accompanied the pair to the checkout stand so they could pay for their items, when Joe cursed at him, he said.

"I said, 'it's time for you to leave right now,'" Dennis said. "He pulled a knife on me as he headed out the door."

As soon as Dennis yelled, "he's got a knife," one of Three Bears' maintenance workers tackled Joe, threw him to the ground and pinned him there until police arrived.

Lt. Kim Wannamaker of the Kenai Police Department said Joe displayed a large folding knife, but was tackled before he could unsheathe it. Joe is a transient fisheries worker, Wannamaker said, and may have been working at one of the processing plants in the area.

Joe was initially charged with third-degree assault, but a follow-up investigation determined he was a registered sex offender and was out of compliance with the registration requirements. Wannamaker also said Joe failed to register as a sex offender.

"He either had not registered or was out of compliance with updating information that could either be an address or employment change," Wannamaker said.

When store employees threw Joe to the ground, his buddy approached the scene, but walked out the door when Dennis told him to leave.

In his five years working for Three Bears, Dennis said this is a first for him.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at

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