Twelve victims took the stand Tuesday afternoon in the courtroom of District Judge Andrea Duffy and told how their jewelry, cash and livelihoods were stolen from their homes over the course of three months.
The alleged culprit, according to police, is Scott Joseph Neiswender, 27, whose last know address was 825 Shaw Avenue in Lansdale.
Neiswender had 35 charges of varying statutes held against him for county arraignment April 25.
Neiswender faces seven counts of felony burglary, seven counts of felony criminal trespass, seven counts of felony theft by unlawful taking, one count of attempted burglary, six counts of criminal mischief and seven counts of receiving stolen property, according to court documents.
Police accuse Neiswender of serial burglary, who hit not only his next-door neighbors on Shaw Avenue, but also rich neighborhoods in Montgomery Township and Lower Gwynedd Township.
One count of attempted burglary and criminal mischief was dismissed by Duffy at the request of defense attorney Frank Flick, due to the victim, Michelle Oney, of 833 Shaw Avenue, failing to appear to testify against Neiswender.
At one point during the hearing, Neiswender spoke to Duffy.
"How are you doing, Your Honor?" he said. "Sorry this is taking so long."
"What I experience today is nothing like these people have experienced today," Duffy said to Neiswender.
Detective Steve Owens of testified that he was present on Jan. 2, 2012 when Montgomery Township Police arrested Neiswender at his Shaw Avenue home on a prowling charge.
At the time of the arrest, Neiswender was found in his basement bedroom, along with his fiancee, Alyssa Maloney, according to testimony.
Owens said Lansdale Police had received numerous reports in October of daytime burglaries.
Homes burglarized were 827 Shaw Avenue, 833 Shaw Avenue, 829 Shaw Avenue and 706 Shaw Avenue.
A search warrant on Jan. 4 uncovered numerous items that Owens identified as not belonging to Neiswender, including jewelry, jewelry boxes and a PlayStation 3 inside a knapsack.
Owens said victims of Shaw Avenue burglaries were called to the station to identify the seized items.
Amy Rims, of the 800 block of Shaw Avenue, testified that she had $700 stolen from her home. Neiswender lived next door to her, she said.
"I went to get money to go shopping and it was all missing," she said. "After inspecting my home, and I went to see if anybody had seen anything, I called the police to report it missing."
When Rims was called in to identify seized property, she said she identified a chain that belonged to her, which she didn't realize she was missing.
She said when she initially reported the money missing to Lansdale Police, she didn't feel she was taken seriously.
"They looked at my husband like he did it," she said.
Flick asked Rims if Neiswender was ever in her home. She said he was not.
"After the police came, he asked me what was going on. He was more friendly than usual after the police came by," she said.
Another Shaw Avenue resident, Mary Jo Fusca, said her son's video games were suddenly missing out of his room on Oct. 14, 2011. She found his bedroom window blinds damaged and items near her son's window moved around.
Fusca said she eventually discovered that a little bag of costume jewelry was missing from a linen closet next to her bathroom.
"I got a call saying police found the items in (Neiswender's) basement when they did the search warrant," she said. "I was very surprised to find my jewelry. I thought I lost it, but it was right there. I couldn't believe it."
A third victim, Salman Moghal, of the 700 block of Shaw Avenue, reported to police on Oct. 15, 2011 that property was stolen from his home that he shares with Jason Flores. Stolen items included a PS3 and video games, Moghal said.
Forced entry was made from a open window on the first floor, Moghal said. He said he knew the video games identified at Lansdale Police headquarters were his, due to the initials on one of the games.
Flores said that two PS3s and various games were stolen from his home. At Lansdale Police, Flores identified one of the PS3 systems as his, due to his user login name.
He said entry was made to the home by a burglar popping the screen and pushing the window open.
Ashwani Barta was away on vacation with his family when his home on the 100 block of Avondale Drive, Montgomery Township, was nearly burglarized on Dec. 24, 2011.
He said he received a notification from his alarm company that somebody tried to break into his home.
"I called neighbors and family friends. They went over and sadi the door was really loose," Barta said.
Upon returning home on Jan. 1, Barta inspected his home and noticed a side door was half-broken.
"The marks looked like somebody tried to open it with a crowbar," he said.
Barta estimated damage in the amount of $700.
Andrew Song, also of the 100 block of Avondale Drive, said he encountered Neiswender in the dark outside one of the homes on his street on Dec. 27, 2011.
"We definitely spoke briefly," he said, after pointing out Neiswender in the courtroom. "I was walking my dog and my dog barked at him. He did come out from the side of the house. I said, 'Can I help you?' He said he was looking for a cat. I asked if he needed help looking for the cat. He said no."
Song said Neiswender then left the area toward Heritage Drive. He said Neiswender was wearing a gray hoodie.
Flick asked Song how far away he was from Neiswender when he allegedly saw him walk from the side of a home. Song said he was on the sidewalk on one side of the road, and Neiswender was on the other side of the road.
Flick asked if he saw Neiswender with a crowbar or tool in his hand. Song said he did not know what a crowbar was.
Fahri Ozezer, of the 100 block of Kent Drive, Montgomery Township, testified that his home was burglarized on Dec. 26, 2011.
Ozezer said he had gone out for the evening to exercise and shop at Giant. When he returned home around 7 p.m., he noticed his laundry room door was broken and pieces of wood were on the floor.
"I noticed something else must be going on," Ozezer said.
He also discovered his wallet was missing from a kitchen island. Contents included $60 cash, a credit card and insurance cards. Ozezer said he canceled his card and was told nobody had used it.
"I wasn't able to identify anything else missing," he said.
Another resident of Kent Drive, Ali Natesh, testified that her family found their front door open when they returned from vacation on Dec. 29, 2011.
She said her husband found their garage window was broken and a bedroom door frame was broken.
Natesh said all her 22-karat wedding jewelry was stolen from a dresser drawer.
"I keep it in my home. When my dad passed away, we kept it to bless the house," she said.
She described one piece of jewelry as ceremonial, with many white stones.
Natesh was able to identify her jewelry both through pictures and through evidence in the courtroom.
She said repairs to her door cost $2,618.
Kathleeen Rittenhouse, of the 700 block of Thatcher Lane, Hatfield, testified that her home was robbed on Dec. 27.
Furthermore, she said her disabled son was asleep, alone at home, during the burglary.
A jewelry box containing numerous rings was stolen from her home, including a Pennridge class ring and a ring given to her by her grandmother. Also missing were numerous pre-1933 silver dollars and $500 in cash. In total, more than $11,300 was missing from her home.
She said the door to her home was unlocked during the robbery, probably because of numerous packages that were being delivered to the home after Christmas.
Rittenhouse's neighbor, Dorothy Valentine, said she saw Neiswender walking up her cul-de-sac toward the Rittenhouse home on Dec. 27, 2011.
"I saw a guy coming down our cul-de-sac and it wasn't anybody who was ever around before," Valentine said. "He walked toward the next place, alone. He had a white-hooded sweatshirt and jeans."
Flick asked if Valentine physically saw his client allegedly walk into the Rittenhouse home. She said she did not.
The final victim, Savine Minshall, of the 1400 block of Rose Lane, Lower Gwynedd, testified that she found her entire jewelry box full of family heirlooms missing from her bedroom on New Year's Eve.
"I was taking off my earrings and I opened my dresser drawer and it occurred to me that something was wrong," she said. "Where's my ruby ring? Where's this? Where's that? Oh my God, I've been robbed. I saw my diamond ring was gone."
She eventually found her kitchen door cracked open, and screws on the floor. A recessed area of the door was pulled out and the drywall was cracked. Minshall estimated damage at $1,500.
Minshall identifed her deceased husband's ring through drawings and descriptions, she said.
One ring - a 150-year-old ring that has been passed down female to female - was never recovered.
The final person called to the stand was Constantinos Lambros, 23, who runs Gold Parties Cash for Gold at 209 N. Broad Street in Lansdale and at another location in Ambler.
Lambros testified that Neiswender was a customer on more than one occasion.
"He had come to me with gold to sell. I looked over the gold and purchased some. It was mostly 22 karat," he said.
Lambros said at one point Neiswender brought him a large number of Indian 22-karat gold.
"I bought some, but 22-karat gold is too heavy. It was bangles and earrings," he said. "The second time, there was a little bit of 22-karat gold, and some loose items like earrings and rings."
Lambros said he paid out about $3,025 in a check format to Neiswender.