A jury convicted Gary “Ray” Steele of Preble County on one count of attempted aggravated rape and aggravated burglary, after a two-day trial, and labeled Steele as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP).
On Jan. 1 of this year, evidence indicated Steele committed a series of crimes which included theft of merchandise from the Eaton WalMart, according to officials. Women’s undergarments were included in Steele’s stolen items, according to a press release from the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office.
Steele then stole numerous bicycles, entered a home on Short Road in Camden without permission, and hit a guardrail on U.S. 127 with his purple Dodge Neon, causing the stolen bicycles to spill onto the road. It is unclear where Steele obtained the bicycles, officials said.
A Preble County Sheriff’s deputy was on the look out for Steele’s unique car, when it was spotted at the Northedge Apartments in Eaton, according to reports.
Steele was reportedly randomly knocking on doors in the apartment complex and when he reached the victim’s door, she was the first to open her door. How Steele got inside the complex was unclear, reports said.
From the parking lot, Deputy Paul Plaugher, with the PCSO, was alerted when he heard screams coming from inside the apartment complex. Steele had forced his way into the apartment of an elderly woman, and was attempting a sexual assault when officers entered the apartment, stopping the attack. The woman suffered bruising, but was otherwise physically unharmed.
Steele, who did not have a steady address at the time of the attack, entered pleas of “No Contest” prior to his trial to the charges of: assault, trespass in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present, theft, and possession of marijuana.
After being found guilty, the court remanded Steele to the custody of the Preble County Sheriff, where he has been incarcerated since the offense, and will remain until his sentencing later this month.
“This defendant is a dangerous sexual predator, and has committed one of the worst forms of crime imaginable- a physical and sexual attack upon an elderly victim perpetrated in the victim’s own home,” said Prosecutor Martin Votel in a written statement. “He needs to be imprisoned, and be segregated from our community - from any community - for as long as possible.”