Oak Bluffs police believe they have cleared up hundreds of peeping Tom incidents in the town stretching back over six or eight years, as well as two breaking and entering cases involving assaults on women, with the arrest of a man last Friday.
Irton A. DeSouza, 35, of Oak Bluffs, was arrested around 1:30 a.m. after being tracked down with the help of video footage recorded on a surveillance system set up by an Oak Bluffs homeowner, which captured him looking into windows.
With the help of the video and the homeowner, police were able to identify the suspect and his house. After he had been brought in and confronted with the video evidence, according to police, Mr. DeSouza admitted a long history of peeping and going into two homes to assault women. He also admitted to being in the country illegally.
“In the two breaking and entering cases DeSouza admitted . . . that he entered the homes through unlocked doors and groped women who were sleeping in their bedrooms,” the police report of the arrest reads.
“DeSouza also admitted that he has been looking into homes for at least the last six or eight years and goes out at least four nights a week to look into the windows of unsuspecting females,” it says.
The Oak Bluffs peeper had proven extraordinarily elusive over the years, said Oak Bluffs police Lieut. Timothy Williamson.
“He had the cover of darkness, obviously, but mostly he was just fast. He was pursued several times, by home-owners as well police officers, and was able to elude us and them. He was fast and crafty and sneaky.”
Even on the night of his arrest, he had previously been pursued on foot by a police officer, but had gotten away.
“Without the help of the community, specifically the citizen who set up the home surveillance system, we would most likely still be chasing a ghost,” Lieutenant Williamson said.
Over recent months the effort to catch the man had been stepped up, as his behavior grew more dangerous. In July he crawled into bed with one woman, then fled, taking a wallet, when she screamed. In August he touched the leg of a young woman as she lay on her bed.
The effort included dogs from the Barnstable County sheriff’s department and the state police. The Plymouth County sheriff’s department had been called in to generate a composite sketch of the offender, based on a description by one of the women he had assaulted.
But it was the video which made the breakthrough. The peeper was caught twice in a short period, so police concentrated their personnel nearby. After he was recorded for the second time on the night of the arrest, he was chased, but got away.
However, police were able to trace him to a house nearby, and recognized him from the video.
Sgt. Michael Marchand and Det. Nick Curelli took him in for questioning.
In his report, Lieutenant Williamson said Sergeant Marchand and Detective Curelli did an “outstanding job with the interview and interrogation, which ultimately led to DeSouza making a lengthy 90-minute confession.”
A fingerprint check at the jail revealed he was the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.
DeSouza appeared in Edgartown district court on Friday on nine charges including assault and battery, indecent assault and battery, two of breaking and entering, larceny, open and gross lewdness, lewd, wanton and lascivious behavior, intimidation of a witness and disorderly conduct.
He entered a not guilty plea. His attorney sought bail of $2,500. The prosecuting district attorney sought $25,000. But Associate Justice Lance Garth set bail at $60,000, on the basis that he could not be certain of the defendant’s true identity.
As of yesterday, Mr. DeSouza remained in the Edgartown house of correction, Lieutenant Williamson said. He is due to appear again in court on Oct. 1.