Tulane student accused in Uptown home invasions released to mental-health facility _lowres

Oliver Jerde

The man accused of a series of home invasions last month in the Uptown university area — and a possible 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 University student, has been booked in four break-ins of occupied residences in January: two in the 1000 and 1300 blocks of Lowerline Street 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 also are analyzing Jerde’s DNA for comparison in two rape cases reported Jan. 15 in the 7600 block of Oak Street and Jan. 16 in the 1700 block of South Carrollton Avenue, but he has not been accused 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,” New Orleans Police Department spokesman Aaron Looney said. “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 bail at $100,000 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 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.”

The written motion filed by Smith said Jerde will receive 30 days of inpatient substance-abuse treatment at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation facility in Plymouth, Minnesota, 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 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 wrote.

“Mr. Jerde has always been respectful and courteous toward me and professional in his demeanor,” Calderon-Abbo wrote. “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 be the best option for facilitating his recovery and eventual re-entry into society.”

Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman signed the order Feb. 18, and Jerde was admitted to Hazelden on Monday, court records show.

Court records related to the four break-ins attributed to Jerde describe events in which the intruder repeatedly passed up valuables in favor of more personal items or had strange interactions when confronted by residents of the homes.

The first incident was in the 1000 block of Lowerline about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 17, when the victim awoke to discover someone holding a hand over her mouth, the arrest warrant in that case states. She saw a strange man standing over her but shook free and yelled “No!” He ran out of the bedroom, and she heard glass from the front door 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 at home, 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 having been outside the house immediately after the break-in, the report states. Jerde denied having been in the house, however, and he was released.

About 5:15 a.m. the same day, 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 says.

The victim tried to follow him outside, 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. A black pea coat was missing from the house as well, the report states.

The following night, about 3 a.m. in the 1100 block of Broadway, a woman awoke to find a man standing over her bed, the report in that case states. He told her, “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 report of a suspicious person in the 800 block of Pine Street found Jerde inside a residence holding a bottle of alcohol that belonged to the residents. The residents said he didn’t belong there, and Jerde was arrested.

A subsequent search of his home turned up several stolen items, including the rabbit pendant necklace from the first break-in, the reports state.

One of the burglary victims said she felt at the time that the man 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.”

Disturbed by the incident, she has since moved out of her home, she said.

A month has passed since Jerde’s arrest, but the victim said she understands from 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 that Jerde has been released 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 woman said.

The District Attorney’s Office did not object to Jerde’s release from electronic monitoring or from Louisiana.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Feb. 29 to include Smith’s statement that Jerde’s release was unopposed by prosecutors and to correct the amount of Jerde’s bail.