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Man arrested after Grand Forks woman wakes up, finds intruder in bedroom

Grand Forks police are again reminding residents to lock their doors after a sexual assault early Monday morning.

Jeremiah Begay, 19, allegedly broke into a neighbor woman’s apartment to steal alcohol and, while there, pulled down her underwear as she slept.

He is now charged with a felony burglary and two misdemeanors: sexual assault and drinking while underage. The maximum prison sentence for the felony is 10 years.

The woman escaped unharmed.

Police Lt. Mike Ferguson said while investigators know Begay didn’t force entry into the apartment, they still don’t know if the door was actually unlocked or not. Regardless, he said, residents should remember to keep their doors locked and their belongings secured.

“Certainly, anything we can do to make the criminal’s job much harder is going to benefit us,” he said.

Although Ferguson wasn’t sure many crimes in town have been related to unlocked doors, he said there’s been a “significant amount” of property and vehicle crimes because people failed to secure their belongings.

Burglaries and auto thefts in general, however, have been on the decline, according to recent police statistics. The 199 burglaries reported last year was the lowest in 10 years. The 75 auto thefts reported was the second lowest.

Transient worker

According to the Police Department, dispatchers received a call from the woman around 3 a.m. after she fled her home at an apartment building on the 500 block of North 25th Street.

The woman told police she had awoken and found a man in shorts and a T-shirt pulling down her underwear. She believed that he lived in the apartment below hers. Police found two men matching the description but zeroed in on Begay.

He admitted to police that he had been drinking and had entered the woman’s apartment to steal alcohol, according to court documents. He also admitted to trying to remove her underwear.

Police described Begay as a transient construction worker from Pinon, a place in northeast Arizona.

Begay does not appear to have a criminal record in North Dakota or Minnesota, and Ferguson said he doesn’t know if Begay has a record in other states. “I’m assuming our investigators have maybe touched base with someone in Arizona,” he said.

A search of Arizona court records online revealed only charges of marijuana possession and drinking underage for someone with the same name born on the same month and year.

Begay made an initial appearance in court Monday and is being held in the Grand Forks County jail.

Police ask those with information about the Monday morning incident to call(701) 787-8000.