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Paroled rapist found dead after fliers are circulated

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A paroled rapist and child molester was found hanging from a redwood tree, an apparent suicide that police believe may be linked to fliers that described his crimes and were circulated among his neighbors as part of the state's Megan's Law.

An anonymous telephone call led officers to the body of Michael Allen Patton, a 42-year-old sign painter. His body was found hanging from a tree on the edge of Santa Rosa, a placid wine-country town. He reportedly left a suicide note.Patton's 22-year record of assaults on women and young girls were described in fliers that police distributed to his neighbors last week as part of California's "Megan's Law," which requires law enforcement agencies to provide public information about paroled sex offenders.

The fliers featured his name, picture, address and list of crimes, which included convictions for kidnapping and rape of a child under age 14. Many of his victims were hitchhikers.