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Police link Ashland man to other prowler cases

Ashland police have tied Troy Fretwell, the Southern Oregon University student put behind bars last month after he was caught staring in a bedroom window, to a dozen other prowler cases dating back to late 2007.

Fretwell, 40, admitted he was responsible for 12 of the Ashland Police Department's unsolved prowler cases, Police Chief Terry Holderness said Tuesday.

"Basically he admitted he's been doing this pretty regularly for about two years," he said.

Because detectives had no hard evidence connecting Fretwell to previous cases, they reached a deal with him and the Jackson County District Attorney's Office to try to close the cases, Holderness said.

If Fretwell, who is in jail until Nov. 10, would tell police what he knew, the district attorney's office wouldn't prosecute him for the old cases, police said.

Because the judge who sentenced Fretwell last month was aware that he was likely responsible for other prowler cases, Fretwell was given a strict sentence of two months' jail time, Holderness said.

Even if police had been able to connect him to the previous cases, Fretwell "probably wouldn't get a lot more time than that," Holderness said.

"He got a significantly harsher sentence than he normally would have gotten for peeping in a window," he said.

Fretwell typically targeted the area near Garfield and Lincoln streets, and tried to go unnoticed as he looked in windows late at night, Holderness said.

Fretwell would sometimes masturbate as he looked through the windows and he appeared to fixate on certain homes, apparently those where women lived, the police chief said.

Officers said they aren't too concerned that Fretwell will continue to prowl in the area after he is released from jail, because he has indicated that he will seek psychiatric help for his problem and that he may relocate, Holderness said.

"He knows that we know what he looks like," he said. "Obviously if there's a report of a prowler, we're going to be looking for him."

Citing police department policy, Holderness declined to comment on whether Fretwell had a record of prowling in Salt Lake City, where he lived before coming to Ashland. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Fretwell pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal trespass in 1990 in Ogden, Utah. The paper found no other criminal records for Fretwell during a routine search.

Fretwell moved to Ashland in late 2007 and enrolled in Southern Oregon University. He is no longer a student there, Holderness said.

Fretwell also worked part time as a Web designer for Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., which is based in Medford.

Although officers were glad to have put Fretwell behind bars and to have closed many of their prowler cases, other cases still exist and residents should remain watchful, Holderness said.

"We think he's been our biggest problem for quite a little while now, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't be careful and continue to call in," he said.

"Just be aware that it does happen — even in Ashland — and it's a good idea to still pull down your shades."

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226, or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

Police link Ashland man to other prowler cases