Man Arrested in Amish Home Intrusion Case

A frankly creepy story has hopefully come to an end in Lancaster County.

Lancaster Rural HomesLast November you might have caught a report of an intruder entering Amish homes in eastern Lancaster County.

The man in both cases would touch Amish females while they slept. He would speak to them and then leave.

A 27-year-old Lancaster County man was arrested Friday and charged in one incident in East Earl township:

According to police, Schwanke entered a Plain sect home in the 400 block of Weaverland Valley Road the night of Oct. 1 and touched a woman sleeping in a lower level bedroom in an effort to waken her. He then fled the home and nothing was taken.

Responding to the scene, police gathered fingerprints from objects that were moved from a window sill by the suspect in order to gain entrance to the bedroom.

The prints were sent to the Pennsylvania State Police laboratory in Harrisburg. They came back this week as belonging to Schwanke, whose prints were on file.

Something similar happened in a neighboring township (Caernarvon) in July. No word on if charges have been filed regarding that incident.

Additionally, members of the Amish community suggested a further two incidents may have gone unreported.

Hopefully this means Amish in Lancaster County can sleep more soundly, as these reports suggest the perpetrator was targeting Amish residences.

Lancaster County photo by Ed C.

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10 Comments

  1. Mary Yoder

    Man arrested in Amish Home

    Oh now that would be so scary, and with my poor hearing, he could come right up to my bed. Poor guy must be sick. With all the things available for sick minds, wouldn’t you think crawling through a window would be just too much effort??

    But how can he go through a window? Ours are locked. I guess he thought there would be no phone to run to.

    1. It does seem a lot of trouble but I guess therein lies the thrill(?) It’s too bad that these types of things prevent people from being comfortable having unlocked doors/windows. Maybe that is an idealized 1950s view of the world but I know that some people still feel comfortable living like that. Hope this guy gets some counseling/rehabilitation in addition to whatever punishment he might receive.

  2. Forest in North Carolina

    Glad he got caught before he advanced to anything worse….

    Another reminder that even in Amish or other Plain communities, there is no shutting yourself off from the world outside….

  3. Mark - Holmes Co.

    It must be a relief to people in the area to know he has been caught. He must be a very sick man…

    1. I would think so, who really knows what’s in someone’s head but this seems like a mental issue or some sort of weird perversion (one of the articles described what he did as “fondl[ing]”). There may be a perception of vulnerability or innocence attached to the Amish that is attractive to a person like that. And that’s about all I want to speculate because this kind of thing is way out of my specialty.

      It did remind me of a similar set of incidents from last year, with the story of the flasher exposing himself in the New Wilmington settlement and the officer who went undercover in Amish women’s garb to try to catch him.

  4. Ed from NY

    Thanks Erik for publicizing this and other cases where someone who set out to victimize the Amish was caught. It is time the “bad guys” realize that the Amish are not going to accept being targeted by criminals, any more than anyone else.

  5. Alice Mary

    Watch out for one another

    This incident just further emphasizes that we’re “all in this, together”. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, as long as there are other human beings on this planet, these things will happen. We need to watch out for one another, and ourselves. Hopefully, this guy gets help and this behavior stops.

    Alice Mary

  6. Naomi Wilson

    It’s nice to be able to leave windows and doors open in the summer. It’s also nice to have a good watchdog who can make a lot of noise.

  7. Debbie H

    I love leaving my windows open, especially at night, however I do not do it at night anymore and only if I am in that room during the day. How sad that we have to live in a vacuum packed world.

  8. Don Curtis

    locking up

    I asked my son, Mark, about this. Unlike many of the Amish he does lock up his house at night and when he is gone. Of course, he was raised in a big city and if you leave your doors and windows unlocked in Columbus, Ohio you’re liable to have unwanted visitors. Mark does leave his bedroom windows open in the summer because he doesn’t have air conditioning. However, his dog, Reba, sleeps in her own bed on the floor at the foot of Mark’s bed. She’d let him know loud and clear if somebody was trying to come through the open window. The other windows in the house are closed and locked at night. These women who were molested may have been accessible for the same reason, open windows during warm weather. Sad.