Deputies arrested a registered sex offender on New Year’s Day, after locating him in an apartment where a woman was screaming for help.
According to Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, the incident began at about 2 a.m. when Eaton Police Division responded to Walmart on a theft offense. The suspect was reported to be driving a purple Dodge Neon vehicle. The vehicle fled north on U.S. 127 and could not be located.
At approximately 5:30 a.m., Simpson reported, deputies responded to the 9500 block of Short Road, where a burglary had just occurred. The home owner reported that a known subject knocked on the door. A juvenile answered the door and the subject forced himself inside. The juvenile woke a parent up and the subject fled out a back door.
According to Simpson, the homeowner identified the subject as Gary “Ray” Steele. The owner reported that Steele was driving a small, dark-colored vehicle and that there were several bicycles in the back of the vehicle. This was similar in description to the vehicle involved at Wal-Mart.
Deputies then received a call of a bicycle in the middle of the road at U.S. 127 and Central Avenue in Camden. Deputies recovered that bicycle, which is believed to have been stolen from Short Road. A short time later, deputies and EPD officers located additional bicycles on U.S. 127 at Consolidated Road. Window glass was also located on the roadway.
Deputies checking the Eaton area spotted a purple Dodge Neon in the parking lot at Northedge Apartments, in front of building 210. They found that the vehicle was missing the rear glass.
While investigating, deputies heard a woman screaming for help from inside the apartment building. They were able to determine which apartment the screaming was coming from, according to Simpson.
Deputies entered the unlocked apartment and found a male subject on top of a female on the floor. The male subject’s pants were partially down and it appeared that the subject was in the progress of attempting to sexually assault the female, who is 67 years old, Simpson reported.
The suspect was taken into custody. Deputies quickly recognized the suspect as Gary L. “Ray” Steele. The victim said the suspect had knocked on her door, and when she answered, he forced himself into the apartment.
The victim said the suspect threatened to kill her if she didn’t cooperate. The victim does not know the suspect, Simpson reported.
The suspect was intoxicated at the time, officials said.
Steele, 46, of Eaton, was housed in the Preble County Jail at press time on the following charges:
Two counts of aggravated burglary, 1st degree felonies; one count of attempt as it relates to rape, a 1st degree felony; and one count of theft, a 1st degree misdemeanor.
Steele is a registered sexual predator in Preble County due to a conviction in the state of Florida in 2002. He has a lengthy criminal history in Preble County as well, according to Simpson. The investigation is currently under review by the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office.