Almost two years after an investigation into a string of disturbing burglaries began, authorities have arrested a suspect they believe was responsible.
According to an Ames Police Department press release, 29-year-old Trenton L. Williams of Ames has been hit with a plethora of charges. These include the following:
- Robbery 2nd degree, a class “C” felony (one count)
- Burglary 1st degree, a class “B” felony (one count)
- Burglary 2nd degree, a class “C” felony (two counts)
- Burglary 3rd degree, a class “D” felony (two counts)
- Assault with Intent to Commit Sexual Abuse, a class “D” felony (one count)
- Stalking, an aggravated misdemeanor (three counts)
- Trespass, a serious misdemeanor (three counts)
- Harassment 2nd degree, a serious misdemeanor (one count)
- Theft 3rd degree, an aggravated misdemeanor (one count)
Back in November, authorities reported an uptick in the number of oddly similar Campustown apartment break-ins. One female victim had reported that a tall black male, wearing a ski mask, black sweatpants, and a gray shirt entered her apartment and demanded money. Upon refusal by the victim, the male reportedly assaulted her and took off. The victim sustained minor physical injuries from the assault.
Ames Police Sergeant Derek Grooters had explained that this was just the latest in an alarming pattern of strangely similar crimes in the area. Ames PD had been investigating multiple burglaries in the 100 and 200 block of Hyland Avenue. In such reports, a male suspect had allegedly been entering females’ apartments and standing in their rooms as they slept. Grooters also noted that items had not always been stolen in those past incidents. “We’ve kind of started to see a pattern, but it’s very scattered,” Grooters said at the time. “We’ll have one or two happen, and then there will be a couple months where nothing happens. But we’re getting descriptions that are very similar.”
Ames Police Sergeant Joel Congdon stated today that the arrest, which took place on Friday, has been a long time coming for everyone involved in the case. “It was a very long investigation,” he conceded. “We had an idea of who the suspect may be, but you have to prove it. In order to do that, you have to get your evidence.”
The process that resulted in the arrest of Williams came after various tidbits of information connected him to a number of the incidents. “The reason why it took so long was that some of the evidence was electronically generated, so we had to wait for subpoenas and warrants to return,” Congdon explained. “Once those items started coming back, things really started pointing in one direction. Just in the last two weeks, we really got a treasure trove of information back that directly linked our suspect to a number of the apartments.”
According to Congdon, startling cases, such as this one, are proof that oftentimes repeat offenders become more and more confident as they commit crimes without being caught. “As more information comes out and the cases build, you can almost see him becoming more emboldened with some of his behavior,” he said. “We believe we have a case that will show that his intent, on at least one occasion, was to assault a victim. Anytime you have a suspect that seems to be escalating in behavior, that’s always an area for concern. You don’t know exactly when that person is going to say ‘Enough. I’ve gone too far.’ And will they even have that capability or control?”
Authorities believe Williams acted strategically and used his own expertise to gain entry into the victims’ residences. “The evidence is going to show that Mr. Williams went to exceptional lengths to do the things that he did,” Congdon stated. “It’s not just someone who is popping into houses just out of opportunity. It was far more target-specific. He also had the ability and education to know how to get into places that most people don’t.”
Court records indicate that Williams also served time in prison in connection to multiple criminal incidents that occurred nearly nine years ago. According to court documents, in summer of 2012, a male reported that, while he was not home, someone had entered his apartment through a window. He reported his wireless Xbox 360 controller, along with multiples games, stolen. Just over a week later, a female reported hearing someone whispering in her living room at around 4:00 a.m. She reportedly saw a black male leaving the apartment complex. Latent fingerprints were recovered from each crime scene, and Williams was taken into custody shortly thereafter. He was convicted on multiple counts of Second-Degree Burglary and Violation of Probation.
Court records also indicate Williams was found guilt of Fifth-Degree Theft in 2010.
Since news of Williams’ most recent arrest broke, Ames PD has received a number of other reports, possibly pointing to more of Williams’ targets. “We have had a number of additional people calling in and making reports,” Congdon noted. “So, I really think there have probably been more people who have been victimized that we don’t even know about.”
The evidence in the case of Williams reportedly indicates that his crimes were not a direct result of carelessness on the part of the victims. Congdon stressed the importance of vigilance as it relates to home security, even if you reside inside a “secured apartment building”. “At many of the places, the people did everything they were supposed to do, like lock their doors and take the normal precautions,” Congdon acknowledged. “One of the things that college kids will notice and can relate to…You live in a secure building, but how many times have you found the front door propped open? Or, perhaps you’ve opened the door, and other people are just waiting by the front, and they hop in with you.”
One thing to guard against as it relates to safety and security, according to Congdon: Overconfidence. “Just about any security system can be breached by a determined individual,” he admitted. “It just depends on how willing and how much risk they are going to take. In this case, it’s pretty bold to go into people’s apartments, especially in a college town where you can normally expect to have three, four, or even five roommates at any one place.”
Even as Ames PD works hard to ensure the safety of locals, Congdon pointed to the reality that is the world that we live in. And, as he emphasized, everyone must continue to remain vigilant to avoid home invasions. “Ames is a really safe place,” he concluded. “But it takes just one person to really wreak havoc and frighten a population. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time we have had something like this happen.”
Williams is currently being held at the Story County Jail on a $180,000 bond.
If you believe you may have been victimized or have information regarding the ongoing investigation, you are encouraged to call the Ames Police Department at 515-239-5133.