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Posted: March 1, 2011 12:19 p.m.

Burglar found naked in school ceiling

Submitted Photo /

Ronald Stephens

Officers responding to a burglary call at Cousins Middle School in the wee hours of the morning Saturday got more than they bargained for when they eventually found their suspect naked in the school ceiling.

 

Covington Police Department officers were dispatched to the school at 3:04 a.m. after the burglar alarm in the kitchen area went off. As the officer checked the doors, he noticed that plastic crates were stacked in a way to give access to the roof. Midway up the stack was a boot, as if someone had stepped out of it while climbing up the crates.

 

The officer noticed that a security camera had been knocked from its mount and that there were two media center carts full of electronic equipment pushed near some glass doors, with a leaf blower, bolt cutters and a crate full of portable radios on the ground near the door.

 

Backup officers were called to search the school. Once they arrived, officers noticed someone move inside the school, a tall person in a dark hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled low and something white covering the face. The man reportedly turned away from the door and walked down a hall.

 

As Covington officers and deputies from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office surrounded the area, the Covington Fire Department arrived to provide extra light to the area and the school’s principal also responded to the scene. Officers found that the school had been entered through a vent near the kitchen.

 

When officers entered the cafeteria they could hear noises in the ceiling.

 

As they cleared the kitchen area, they saw that the cash register had been damaged, as well as an ice cream freezer. The ceiling also looked damaged, and it appeared that someone might have entered the area between the drop ceiling and the roof. Officers continued to follow protocol and searched the remainder of the building, finding damage in both the art room and the technology room.

 

It took two hours to search the school and during that time officers continued to hear noise from the ceiling.

 

A search dog alerted officers to look toward the ceiling in the technology classroom. Officers removed some ceiling panels there and found several items of clothing, including a black hooded sweatshirt, a set of keys, later identified as janitor’s keys, and rubber boots.

 

Officers then removed a ceiling panel in a small room inside one of the classrooms and found a crouched, naked man, later identified as 21-year-old Ronald Stephens of Conyers. Officers ordered Stephens to come out and he allegedly tried to comply, but fell through the ceiling tiles. Stephens was transported to the hospital for treatment to his elbow and legs (sustained prior to his fall), before being transported to the Newton County Detention Center, where he remains, charged with burglary and criminal trespass.

 

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