A Jackson man was indicted Monday by an Athens County Grand Jury on twelve charges — seven felonies and five misdemeanors — after tenants of a West Side Athens house reported him allegedly peeping into their windows and trying to gain entry into the home many times over the course of several months.
Trea Benedict, 22, was charged in a superseding indictment with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony; burglary, a second-degree felony; two counts of attempted burglary, both third-degree felonies; two counts of tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies; and menacing by stalking, a fourth-degree felony.
Benedict, who was arrested in Nelsonville on Aug. 28 by The Athens County Sheriff’s Office, was also charged in the indictment with two counts of petty theft, a first-degree misdemeanor; a second-degree misdemeanor count of voyeurism; and two third-degree misdemeanor counts of voyeurism.
He was originally indicted Aug. 31, but investigators have since pegged him with several additional crimes, rendering the old indictment void.
Beginning in early June, tenants of a North High Street rental home reported hearing and seeing a person around the house on multiple occasions.
On one occasion in June, a tenant heard a man, now identified as Benedict, walking around the home and she later discovered that both the front and back doors were opened. The tenants had their landlord change the locks the next day.
Days later, another tenant found Benedict peering through her window. The tenants purchased a security camera the following day to place on the front porch and they ordered two cameras for the back of the house.
Weeks later, the residents returned home late one night after celebrating a roommate’s birthday Uptown, and one noticed what appeared to be the flash of a camera when she removed her shirt, according to the indictment.
After the incident, the residents checked security footage and found that Benedict tried to gain entry into the home through the front door while reportedly touching his genital area. He also removed the security camera, which was reportedly found in the neighbor’s yard the following day, the indictment said.
Security footage from that night revealed that Benedict removed several window screens and attempted to gain entry through the home’s back door.
The woman celebrating her birthday posted a picture on Instagram of their night out, and the tenants later discovered that Benedict followed her on the social media platform, according to the indictment.
After several other unwanted run-ins with Benedict, the tenants took additional precautions, including installing a peephole on the front door and adding extra blinds to the backdoor window and kitchen window.
In attempt to identify Benedict with the help of the public, The Athens Police Department in late June shared on Facebook a video and images of him loitering near the North High Street house and tampering with the property late at night. One post garnered nearly 500 shares.
The incidents continued through July until Benedict was arrested in August. When questioned by authorities, he denied being in Athens despite location pings on his phone and text messages indicating otherwise.
Investigators also found images of women on Benedict’s phone, including one of the girls who lived at the North High Street home, that he had stored in a photo vault application, the indictment said.
Benedict was previously convicted of voyeurism and menacing by stalking when he was a teenager for repeatedly lurking and peering into the home of a 19-year-old woman. He reportedly admitted to law enforcement at the time that he had trouble controlling his urges to look at people through their windows, an act that gave him sexual pleasure, according to the indictment.
In addition, he was reportedly charged and convicted in 2018 as an adult when he was a juvenile for attempted burglary in Lorain County after following a woman home, trying to gain entry into her house and admitting he had “sexual intentions,” the indictment said. He is currently on probation for that charge.
“No one should have to fear for their own safety in our community, not the least of which includes their own home,” Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in a statement. “These are very serious allegations and we are pleased that the residents of North High Street can have some peace of mind now.”
Benedict is being held in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. His arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday in the Athens County Common Pleas Court. The case was investigated by the Athens Police Department and Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.