Homeless man arrested after found sleeping in Utah woman’s basement, eating from her fridge

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WASHINGTON CITY, Utah (KTVX) — A grandmother of eight was surprised when she walked into her kitchen Tuesday morning and saw a man she didn’t know wearing nothing but boxers and socks and eating food from her fridge.

Rebecca “Becky” Collet has lived at her home, which is directly behind the Washington City Police Department, for about a year. She says she would have been terrified if it weren’t for the man’s quiet and nonaggressive demeanor.

Collet has no idea at this point how he got into her home, as there was no clear point of entry. She said she went on a walk with her friend Monday afternoon and may have left the door unlocked, or hypothesized he could’ve gained access while she was unloading her groceries.

She said she also is unsure how long he had been staying at her home, adding that she walked downstairs into her basement Monday afternoon and did not see any sleeping bags or pillows set up. She believes he may have just stayed Monday night, but also stated he could’ve been hiding in one of her closets in the basement.

“I was very surprised, he seemed a bit surprised, and then I just said ‘You need to leave,'” said Collet, who opened the sliding door to her backyard and watched him walk out. “But somehow, he didn’t have a mean face. He had a soft face. Blond dreadlocks down to his shoulders.”

Collet said she watched him sit against the wall of her home with his head in his hands as she called the police. Meanwhile, she said she realized he didn’t have any shoes on and asked him if he had shoes. She said he replied, asking her if she had shoes for him.

“I walked downstairs to find his shoes and I found my sleeping bag, my pillows, and some food,” Collet added. “Peanut butter, an orange, some cheese, some of my Vitamin C packets.”

Officers with the Washington City Police department arrested the suspect, Paul Swindler, 33, at approximately 9:44 a.m, according to police records.

Collett said she showed officers several boxes he had been looking through trying to find something of value. Authorities wrote in arresting documents she gave them a few bags Swindler had left in the basement, which included a counterfeit $5 bill.

“Curiously, I had about a hundred books down there, and he was reading my journal from the 80s,” she added.

Collet said she believes everything happens for a reason, even if the reason is difficult to understand.

“I’m not afraid in the house, except now when I get up in the morning I think I’d better get dressed, no telling who’s going to be in the kitchen,” she said.

Police said they learned Swindler had an active warrant for his arrest and he is now facing felony burglary and forgery charges.

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