24 year old Erik Paxton of the 100 block of South Rosedale Avenue was charged with two counts of residential burglary, one count of criminal trespassing and three counts of disorderly conduct in connection with multiple "peeping Tom" incidents on the west side of Aurora.
Paxton was employed by Heritage YMCA, a volunteer at Hesed House and worked with small children in the Indian Prairie and West Aurora School Districts.
Stephanie Lulay and Erika Wurst further report:
Paxton was arrested Sunday at his home after officers questioned him about a “Peeping Tom” incident that had been reported Saturday by a concerned father in the 200 block of South Westlawn Avenue.
The resident called police after he saw a man running from his backyard. The man also found a step stool outside of his juvenile daughter’s window.
This was the second time officers were called to the residence for such a complaint, police said. In April, the father reported seeing a man peering into the room of his other juvenile daughter.
At around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, an Aurora police officer came across Paxton in the area of Kensington Place and Rosedale Avenue. Paxton fit the general description of the suspect in the “peeping Tom” incident and the officer questioned him, but the encounter did not immediately lead to an arrest, police said.
When Paxton was questioned the next day by detectives, they gathered enough information from his statements to arrest him, police said.
Detectives tied Paxton to both Westlawn Avenue incidents and a similar incident on March 20 when a neighbor of a 32-year-old woman called police after seeing a man peering into a rear window of her home in the 100 block of South Central Avenue. The man in that incident ran from the scene when the neighbor yelled at him, police said.
Paxton is charged with single counts of disorderly conduct in each of the three incidents, Ferrelli said.
Police: underwear in home
Police searched Paxton’s home on Tuesday and discovered items that led to additional charges. Police said Paxton entered the attached garage at the Westlawn Avenue home on or about May 6 and to the home on Central Avenue on March 22 and stole several items of girl’s clothing which were recovered during the search of his residence. Ferrelli said those items included girl’s and women’s underwear. Both homes were not locked, police said.
Paxton was then charged with two counts of residential burglary.
Police said Paxton was charged with residential criminal trespassing for entering a home through an unsecured door in the 300 block of South Central Avenue. Paxton apparently watched the residents of the home — ages 54, 62 and 80 — as they were sleeping but did not take anything, Ferrelli said. He fled when a dog in the home began barking.
Worked in schools
Police are also investigating whether Paxton had inappropriate contact with children at elementary schools in the West Aurora and Indian Prairie school districts.
Paxton works for the Heritage YMCA in Naperville supervising elementary school-age children enrolled in a before- and after-school programs, according to police. As part of that job, he was assigned to Freeman Elementary School in Aurora and Longwood Elementary School in unincorporated Naperville.
Sherrie Medina, vice president of communication for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, said Paxton has been terminated.
“Our number one priority is and always will be the welfare, safety and education of the children in our care,” Medina said.
Paxton, who has been employed with the Y since September 2011, was suspended after his arrest on Tuesday, and was terminated Wednesday after formal charges were filed, she said.
“As per Y policy, he was employed only after passing extensive reference and background checks, including fingerprinting,” Medina said.
She said no complaints were received by parents or children in his care.
West Aurora school spokesman Mike Chapin confirmed Paxton worked through the YMCA at an after-school daycare program with children of Freeman Elementary School. Chapin said school officials are working with Aurora police in their investigation. No one at the Indian Prairie district could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Hesed House Executive Director Ryan Dowd said Paxton was a relatively new volunteer who worked with a children’s program. Dowd assured parents that Paxton was never alone with the children
“We’re pretty confident that our (volunteer) system is solid,” Dowd said, adding that Paxton had no prior criminal history. “... We have no reason to believe that anything criminal happened here.”
More charges likely
Further charges against Paxton are likely as the investigation progresses, police said.
Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, said a neighborhood meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Washington Middle School where the incidents will be discussed. Residents were mailed fliers with information.
“We don’t want a bunch of rumors going around, but we want to be straightforward and transparent with what is going on,” Lawrence said.
“I know the families involved here, there’s more than one. Your heart goes out to these people who are affected by this,” he said.
Paxton’s nearby neighbors said they planned to attend the meeting.
“It’s scary, because you don’t know who your neighbors are,” a woman said Tuesday, just hours after police flooded her quiet street. “Look at how peaceful it is here. Never would I think (something like this would be going on).”
The woman said that dozens of children live up and down the street.
Lawrence credited Aurora Police Officer Dave Brian for his work in handling the case.
“We have the best officers, I think,” Lawrence said. “Dave really takes interest and pride in this neighborhood.”
Chapin said Paxton is a 2006 graduate of West Aurora High School.
Paxton’s next court date is at 9 a.m. May 30 in courtroom 313 at the Kane County Judicial Center. He is being held on $260,000 bail at the Kane County Correctional Center.
Note: West Aurora School District 129 and Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas also contributed to this story.