ST. GEORGE — A Connecticut man was arrested on burglary charges after a woman arrived at work Wednesday morning in St. George to find an unknown man in her office who had allegedly spent the night, arranged the furniture, had written with marker on the ceilings and walls and tried to cool down a room to make ice cream by opening a refrigerator.
At approximately 8 a.m. Wednesday, officers responded to a burglary report at the Utah State University Extension Office located at 475 S. Donlee Drive in St. George after an employee arrived at work and noticed things were amiss, according to a probable cause statement filed by the St. George Police Department in support of the arrest.
As the employee walked inside the building, she told police, a man walked out from the office hallway holding a laptop computer.
“The laptop was facing her and the male told her she was being filmed,” the arresting officer wrote in the statement. “(The employee) asked him if he was supposed to be there and the male indicated to her that she had invited him there.”
The employee left the building and called 911.
The man walked outside, set the laptop down outside the building, got in his vehicle and drove away.
The employee was able to get the man’s license plate number to give to police. The license plate was registered to 35-year-old Richard C. Zeh, of New Britain, Connecticut, according to the statement.
“When I arrived,” the officer wrote, “I noticed a laptop sitting outside. The camera was on and there was music playing.”
When police went inside to clear the building, they noticed large signs had been moved, the refrigerator and freezer doors were open and large containers were stacked in front of it, the report stated. Police observed writing on the walls and ceiling in blue marker and chairs in the conference room stacked on a table with an American flag draped through them.
Police found personal items on one table, according to the statement, including receipts, a business card and papers with Zeh’s name on them, cash and a Wingate hotel room key.
Around that same time, police received a report of a person, later identified as Zeh, walking alongside his moving car a few blocks north of the business, the report stated. Police responded and asked Zeh if he had been the one inside the office at the old airport. Zeh told police it was him.
When asked to explain what happened, the report stated, Zeh told police “he had been drawn to the location.”
He told officers that he went inside the building when it was still open and sat in the waiting area for a while before going upstairs and falling asleep on a couch, the report stated. When he woke up, he said he decided to clean the building.
“He stated he had written the statements on the walls. He stated he had also stacked the chairs on the tables,” the officer wrote. “When I asked him about the fridge and freezer being opened, he stated he had opened them to try and get the room colder. He stated he had attempted to make ice cream in a Gatorade container. He said when the container was too large to fit in the freezer, he opened both the doors to try and cool the room down. He stated he wanted to share the ice cream.”
Zeh also told police that a cleaning lady had been at the office that morning and that she asked Zeh who he was.
“He told her he was there to help her clean,” the officer wrote. “She then began cleaning and Richard said he helped her. Richard said she vacuumed the conference room and then left the building. He stated that as he was leaving the building, he saw (the other employee) and wanted to explain the writings on the wall to her, but she looked scared so he just left.”
Zeh was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. He was charged with third-degree felony burglary, along with two class A misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and theft.
Judge Eric Ludlow, of the 5th District Court, ordered $10,000 bail for Zeh’s release pending trial.
He was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Thursday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Ariel Taylor. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance Monday afternoon.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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