Trend? For third time in six months, a man arrested in Amherst after allegedly entering strangers’ home and getting in bed

Last modified: Tuesday, May 06, 2014
AMHERST — A Main Street woman is still reeling after telling police she discovered a University of Massachusetts student asleep on the lower bunk of her 8-year-old son’s bed early Saturday morning.

“I’m feeling completely unsafe,” Rebecca Hart said in an interview Monday. “I’m looking for a different place to live.”

Zachary James Zeigler, 19, of Norfolk, was arrested on charges of breaking and entering to commit a misdemeanor, trespassing, disturbing the peace and being a minor in possession of alcohol, after Hart found him around 6 a.m. when she went to check on her child. The boy was not awakened by the intruder, she said. Hart lives in the house with her husband, Deep Chinoppa, and their son and 7-year-old daughter.

Hart said when she spotted Zeigler, who she had never seen before, she quickly woke her husband, who had arrived home from work around 1 a.m. She asked if he had brought a friend home. When he said no, the couple got their son out of the bedroom and she called police, who woke up Zeigler and placed him under arrest.

Hart said she does not know when Zeigler arrived. There was no sign of forced entry, Amherst Police Detective Gregory Wise said.

It is unclear why he entered the house or how and when he got inside, Wise said. Nothing was damaged or stolen and no one was injured.

Living in a student-populated area of town, Hart’s family has heard loud parties many weekends and has had the house number sign stolen from their lawn three times, she said. This incident, however, has frightened them. Both her son and daughter were nervous about going to bed Saturday night. “They were both feeling unsafe,” she said.

Similar incidents where college-age people, believed to be intoxicated, have entered homes and businesses overnight have occurred in recent months. In April, a UMass student was arrested inside a downtown restaurant after she set off alarms by entering it during the early morning hours. In November, a UMass student was summoned to court on a charge of breaking and entering after he was found asleep on the living room couch in a residence at Riverside Park Apartments on Montague Road. Also in November, homeowners found a man sleeping in an unoccupied bedroom at a South East Street home. He was arrested on charges of breaking and entering during the nighttime to commit a felony, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.

Hart said she is still trying to absorb what happened. As a UMass student herself, she said, she has built good relationships with students who live nearby, including those who live across the street and baby-sit for her children. “I don’t see why residents need to say ‘This is a college town and this is going to happen,” she said.

Other weekend disturbances

Police also fielded numerous noise complaints over the weekend, most of which were handled with verbal warnings. The handful that led to arrests or citations related to residents being uncooperative with police instructions, Wise said.

Police found residents unwilling to clear out guests at their party or extinguish a campfire on the property at 31 Shumway St. at 1:14 a.m. Saturday.

Theodore Young Beauparlant, 20, of West Newbury, Justin Michael Healey, 21, of Newburyport, Daniel Reed Olarte, 22, of Seekonk, and Robyn R. Robichaud, 22, of Pleasant View, Tenn., were each arrested on charges of violating the town’s noise bylaw, Wise said.

Two residents at 351 Potwine Lane, a 21-year-old Wilbraham man and a 21-year-old Three Rivers man, will each pay $600 in fines after police issued both men tickets for violating the town’s noise and nuisance house bylaws after police responded to their home for a second time at 12:49 a.m. Sunday, Wise said.

At 1:43 a.m. Sunday, police responded to 200 guests making loud noise at 140 Sunset Ave. and issued a 22-year-old Seekonk resident a $300 noise ticket.

Police also took several complaints of loud noise coming from the Hampshire College campus around 10 p.m. Saturday. Officers determined there was a concert on campus and worked with Hampshire College police to lower the sound level of the bands.

In other incidents, police found a man tossing a lit pizza box into a Dumpster on Hobart Lane at 1:39 a.m. Sunday. The man told police he was trying to complete a $150 bet with residents. The matter was referred to the Fire Department for further investigation.

And two break-ins were reported at Salem Place in which a small amount of money and jewelry was taken. In the first, reported at 2:02 a.m. Saturday, entry was made through an unlocked sliding door, and in the second, reported at 1:04 p.m., an unlocked window was the point of entry.