The man charged in a series of home-invasions last month in the university area — and a suspect in two sexual assaults — has been removed from electronic monitoring and allowed to leave the state, according to court records.
Oliver Jerde, a 23-year-old Tulane student, has been charged in four break-ins of occupied residences in January: two in the 1000 and 1300 blocks of Lowerline on Jan. 17, one on Jan. 18 in the 1100 block of Broadway, and a final case Jan. 21 in the 800 block of Pine Street, where he was arrested. Detectives are also analyzing Jerde’s DNA for comparison in the two other simple rape cases reported Jan. 15 in the 7600 block of Oak and Jan. 16 in the 1700 block of South Carrollton, according to a report in the New Orleans Advocate, but no charges have been filed in those cases.
“The sexual assaults in the university/Uptown area are currently open and active investigations. No one has been charged at this time,” said NOPD spokesman Aaron Loomey on Friday morning. “In addition, investigators have not definitively identified a suspect, nor have any potential suspects been cleared at this time.”
Four days after Jerde’s arrest, a magistrate judge set his bond at $150,000 and allowed him to be transferred from jail to the River Oaks Hospital in Harahan for “treatment,” as long as he turned in his passport, remained in the state of Louisiana and wore an electronic ankle monitor, according to court records. Last week, however, Jerde’s new attorney, Randy Smith, secured permission for Jerde to “leave the jurisdiction … to enter treatment in an out-of-state facility,” the court record states. “The ankle bracelet will be removed.”
Court records related to four break-ins attributed to Jerde describe an unusual series of events, in which the suspect repeatedly passed up valuables in favor of more personal items, or had strange interactions when confronted by the residents of the homes.
The first of the burglaries was in the 1000 block of Lowerline around 3:30 a.m. Jan. 17, when the victim awoke to feel someone holding a hand over her mouth, the arrest warrant in that case states. She saw a strange man standing over her, the report states, but shook free and loudly yelled “No!” He ran out of the bedroom, and she heard glass from the front door of her home shattering as he left, the report states.
After the man left, the victim noticed several items missing from her home — two gold necklaces (one with a rabbit pendant), a white sheepskin throw, and a graduation photo of her daughter (who was not home) stolen out of her daughter’s bedroom, the report states. Police found a beer can left in one room and an empty wine bottle in the daughter’s room, and both were swabbed for DNA, the report states.
A police sergeant stopped a man later identified as Jerde walking nearby, and both the victim and a neighbor awakened by the shattering glass identified him as being outside the house immediately after the break-in, the report states. Jerde denied having been in the house, however, and was released, the report states.
Around 5:15 a.m. the same morning, a similar incident was reported in the 1200 block of Lowerline. The victim awoke to see a man rummaging through her bedroom dresser, using an iPhone as a flashlight, the report states. She confronted him and he replied that he was “with Emma,” who “lives in the back,” but the resident told him no such person lived in the house, the report states.
The victim tried to follow him out, but he turned on her with a large knife that appeared to be a bread knife, and she stopped, allowing him to escape, the report states. After he left she found that cash in a glass pitcher had been untouched, but a bottle of perfume was missing from the dresser.
“A picture of her and her mom had been crumpled up and was inside of her pencil jar which was on her desk inside her room,” the report states.
Another resident in the house found that her Facebook account had been used on her laptop, with “numerous sexual comments” posted to pictures on her profile, and friend requests sent to several people she didn’t know, the report states. Further, a black pea coat was missing from the house as well, the report states.
The following night, around 3 a.m. in the 1100 block of Broadway, a woman awoke to find a man standing over her while she was in bed, the report in that case states. He told her that “We were hanging out earlier,” at The Boot, a nearby college bar, the report states. The victim insisted that he leave, and when police arrived, she told them she had not been at The Boot.
Finally, on Jan. 21, police responding to a suspicious persons call in the 800 block of Pine Street found Jerde inside a residence with a bottle of alcohol in his hand that belonged to the residents. The residents said he didn’t belong there or have permission to drink their alcohol, and Jerde was arrested at that point, the reports state.
A subsequent search of Jerde’s home turned up several stolen items, including the rabbit-pendant necklace from the first Lowerline break-in, the reports state.
‘It was disturbing’
One of the burglary victims — who is not being identified by Uptown Messenger — said she felt at the time that the man she saw in her bedroom was there to rape her.
“He was very mocking toward me. He put his finger over his mouth and said, ‘Shhh.’ It was disturbing,” the woman said. “My feeling was, I was about to get raped.”
Even after he left, she said, her unsettled feeling was bolstered by the fact that he left so many obvious valuables and seemed to have more interest in personal belongings. Disturbed by the incident, she has since moved out of her home, she said.
“It wasn’t just about theft,” she said. “He was not only there to steal property.”
A month has passed since Jerde’s arrest, but the victim said she understands that from her conversations with the district attorney’s office that the investigation is continuing.
“I don’t think at this point that they’re dragging their feet,” she said. “Everything they said makes sense.”
But upon learning this week that Jerde has been released from the state and from electronic supervision, she said she is concerned that his possible threat to public safety is not being taken seriously enough.
“How do we know where he is? If he doesn’t have an ankle bracelet on anymore, they must not be concerned with tracking him,” the victim said. “It makes you wonder if money is making a difference in this case.”
The online court records do not say whether prosecutors agreed to Jerde’s release from electronic monitoring or from Louisiana, and the district attorney’s office did not respond to a question about the case Friday.
The written motion filed Thursday by defense attorney Randy Smith says that Jerde will receive 30 days of inpatient substance-abuse treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Plymouth, Minn., because similar options are not available in Louisiana. Jerde will not leave the center without notifying the district attorney, the motion states, and the future of his treatment options will be discussed at his next court date on March 24.
Jerde has been diagnosed since September 2015 as bipolar and with disorders relating to alcohol and marijuana use, as well as an unspecified “social phobia,” according to a letter from his doctor, Jose Calderon-Abbo of New Orleans. The Hazelden facility is specially designed to treat young people who have simultaneous addictions and mental illnesses, the doctor writes.
“Mr. Jerde has always been respectful and courteous towards me, and professional in his demeanor,” Calderon-Abbo writes to the court. “Though he has a history of depressive episodes and some hypomania, this is, to my knowledge, the first episode of psychosis and additionally the first offense in someone who has otherwise led a responsible and productive life. … I believe that receiving treatment at Hazelden would would be the best option for facilitating his recovery and eventual re-entry into society.”
Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman was signed the order Thursday, Feb. 18, and Jerde was admitted to Hazelden on Monday, the court records show.
[Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of Jerde’s bond. The correct amount was $150,000 on all the charges.]