Pierce County sex offender arrested after buying cigarettes for teens

A sex offender in Pierce County bought cigarettes for kids, police told KIRO 7.

SOUTH HILL, Wash. — A sex offender with a history of contacting underage kids and refusing to register is behind bars after parents found out he was buying cigarettes for several teenagers in the Gem Heights area of South Hill.

Donald Burchett, 41, was found living in a homeless camp behind the WinCo Supermarket on 176th Street. Deputies soon discovered he was wanted on a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender. Burchett is a level three sex offender, considered the most likely to re-offend. He was first convicted of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in Idaho in 2001.

"He has a history of contacting minors," said a Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman, Detective Ed Troyer. "He's been in trouble before for texting 13-year-old kids, he's been with younger kids when he shouldn't have been."

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Burchett was arrested for failing to register in 2013 in Pierce County and served time in Montana that year for failing to register there.

In 2007, he aroused suspicion when he posed as an Iraq war veteran named Lt. Don Daily in Kitsap County and went to several local churches asking for food and housing. Police there also found an outstanding warrant for failure to register as a sex offender.

Pierce County investigators are concerned he may have been grooming kids in the area.  “We believe that there could be victims out there,” said Troyer. “And if there’s someone out there that we haven’t heard from, we’d like to hear from them.”

Burchett is being held in the Pierce County jail with bail set at $5,000.