Caretaker testifies in court after catching homeless man smoking in bed after break-in

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Samuel Ciopasiu, 38 (Courtesy of VPRJ)
Samuel Ciopasiu, 38 (Courtesy of VPRJ)

A homeless man who made himself at home in a stranger’s bed will now find himself before a grand jury.

Samuel Ciopasiu, 38, appeared in York-Poquoson General District Court Tuesday on charges of grand larceny and entering a home with intent to commit a felony.

The charges stem from New Year’s Eve, when Ciopasiu was discovered inside a Kiln Creek residence after he allegedly broke in, prepared to take a Jacuzzi bath and laid in the homeowner’s bed, smoking a cigarette. The homeowner was on vacation at the time. 

Ciopasiu was found by William Phillips, who said he lives in the neighborhood and was checking on the home, where his estranged wife lives.

Phillips testified in court Tuesday, saying he entered the home on Dec. 28 and 29, and at one point detected a “faint smell” of cigarettes, which he dismissed. He returned to check on the home again two days later.

“When I entered on the 31st it smelled like a bar,” Phillips testified.

Phillips said he walked upstairs, where he believed the smell was originating.

“I looked through a crack in the door and saw someone standing there,” Phillips said. “I was stunned and I asked him what he was doing and he said he was about to take a shower.”

Ciopasiu then ran from the home and Phillips said he got into his vehicle to pursue him. Phillips added he did not have his cell phone on him at the time and was unable to call police.

At one point, Phillips said he thought he had cornered Ciopasiu and got out of his car to apprehend him. However, Ciopasiu was able to continue running. Another motorist saw the chase, pulled a u-turn and helped Phillips detain Ciopasiu until police arrived.

Phillips told defense attorney Fernando Groene, “I didn’t notice anything missing, except the defendant was wearing a pair of my wife’s sweatpants and my shoes.”

Phillips added that an open box of salmon had been discovered in the backyard — which had been delivered while the homeowner was away — and two of the upstairs toilets were clogged. Ciopasiu had also left cigarette butts and ashes in the bed, and water in the tub, Phillips said. 

While Phillips testified in court that the sweatpants and shoes Ciopasiu stole were purchased for a combined $185, the prosecution was unable to prove the price of the salmon. Grand larceny charges require $200 or more to be stolen. Therefore, the grand larceny charges against Ciopasiu were nolle prossed, meaning prosecutors won’t pursue the charges unless new evidence comes to light. 

The entering a home with intent to commit a felony charge against Ciopasiu was confirmed Tuesday, certified to a grand jury and moved to a higher court.

According to the criminal complaint, Cipoasiu said the back door was left ajar and he walked in.  He was not authorized to be in the home by the homeowners. Phillips testified in court that some downstairs windows were unlocked as well. 

Ciopasiu will appear in York-Poquoson Circuit Court March 21.