Devine resident was allegedly Randall's Peeping Tom
After five weeks of investigation, one now former student has been arrested in connection to the series of Peeping Tom incidents that occurred during this time, including a dorm room break-in and reports of someone videotaping a woman in the shower.
Eighteen-year-old Kewei Chen of Ningbo Cixi, China, was taken into custody on Friday, March 28 and charged with burglary, attempted burglary, two counts of violation of privacy and criminal trespass. At the time of the arrest, Chen was being held on $15,000 cash bail and had surrendered his passport. He has been banned from campus and appeared in front of Dover Circuit Court on Monday, where his $15,000 cash bail was, once again, established.
"Our department's number one priority is the safety and well-being of our campus community," UNH Executive Director of Safety Paul Dean said in a press release from the department. "Being able to identify Mr. Chen was the result of great teamwork among the police department, housing and residential life. Everyone was committed to bringing this to a stop and their persistence made it possible."
For many of the students living in the Upper Quad, the arrest may come as somewhat of a relief.
Rachael Duda, a sophomore who lives in Randall where the original Peeping Tom incident happened back in February, became aware of the various incidents from both social media and the posters and announcements made by the dorm's staff and the police department. She said that the overall environment of the dorm had changed.
"I think it shocked everyone to hear that our safe and friendly dorm wasn't as safe as we thought it was. I think each person acted more cautious," Duda said. "I know my friends in Randall made it a point not to shower at night because they were afraid to. I also heard of people going to take showers at the same time so they would know someone else was in there with them."
For those in the surrounding dorms, the feelings were similar, though many have expressed concerns that they did not feel as informed on the following incidents.
"It's scary enough thinking a stranger could have done this, but to know it was someone who lived right down the hall from me was very concerning," Lea Cunningham, a sophomore who lived on the same floor as Chen in Devine Hall, said. "When the second incident occurred, I did not receive an email from the school or anything. I only heard about it through rumors from other residents. I did not understand why we weren't warned the second time."
But as with any case, the entire situation has acted as a way for authorities and officials here on campus to further refine the methods used to quickly solve cases like this. Their hope for the future is that students will continue to work at preventing cases like this from happening again.
"Being an active bystander is one of the most important things that anyone can do," Gilly Barbato, the residence hall director for the Upper Quad, said. "Even small pieces of information that seem irrelevant can help paint a much larger picture for hall staff and the UNHPD."
Barbato also said that she continually reminds students that they should always lock their doors, especially when they are sleeping or are not in the room, and to be aware of whom they are letting into the residence halls.
"Students should report all suspicious activity to UNH Police by calling 911," Dean said, advice that mirrored his statements given from the original incident.
The Upper Quad Staff will host an Upper Quad "town meeting" starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 1 to allow residents to share their feeling and concerns, as well as "simply process the disturbance in the community," according to Barbato.
"This gives everyone the opportunity to have their voices heard," she said.
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