ROCK HILL, S.C. - A 24-year-old Rock Hill man is facing multiple burglary and assault charges related to several incidents that occurred on or near the Winthrop University campus in recent months.
Wayne Everett Johnson, 820 West Main St., is being held at Rock Hill Jail following his arrest late Jan. 4, when he was charged with entering a house on Ebenezer Avenue Extension through an unlocked kitchen window.
Police confirm in that case that the female occupant of the home reported that she was upstairs when she heard noises downstairs and went down to investigate. She saw an intruder coming in through an unlocked rear window over the kitchen sink; the intruder saw her, then fled. The resident called police, who a few minutes later spotted an individual meeting the description of the intruder in the Richland Drive area. The suspect fled when police approached, but was caught after a short foot chase, according to the report of Rock Hill Police Department arresting officers.
Because the suspect met the description of a man wanted for a series of similar still-pending intruder incidents, police said, evidence from all incidents was compared to evidence from some of those cases, including one in December in which a female Winthrop student was battered in her residence hall room by an intruder and a similar burglary and criminal sexual assault in October at an off-campus sorority house. In each incident, victims reported suspects entered premises through unlocked doors or windows.
Winthrop Police Chief Frank Zebedis said that his department has filed charges against Johnson "based on the consistency of the evidence in each of these cases." Officials declined to disclose what kind of evidence connected the cases while the investigation continues. Other charges likely will be added to the Winthrop charges, which include burglary in the first degree and attempted criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
Zebedis said Johnson had worked briefly for a campus contractor about a year ago, but had left on good terms and was employed by a private company at the time of his arrest. The Winthrop police chief expressed appreciation to Rock Hill city police and the State Law Enforcement Division for solid cooperation and information and resource sharing throughout the investigation, adding that “we also appreciate the contributions of our citizens, including the victims themselves, in working with us until an arrest could be made."
"While we believe this arrest returns our traditional peace of mind to our campus and its surrounding neighborhoods," Zebedis said, "we continue to urge all citizens, including our students, to exercise routine caution in security matters by locking windows and doors and adhering to common-sense precautions, wherever they are."
Winthrop students returned to campus over the weekend for spring semester classes, which began Monday. All students are being notified of the arrest by e-mail, Zebedis said, and will receive campus security updates and regular start-of-semester reminders about how they can help keep themselves safe.
For information related to Winthrop charges, contact Zebedis at 803/323-3333. For RHPD charges, contact Detective Jerry Waldrop at 803/329-7297.