Gates man accused of burglarizing dead woman's motel room indicted

Gates Police said Jose Pena was arrested on December 6 and charged with second-degree burglary, petit larceny and tampering with physical evidence. (Photo: Gates PD)

Gates, N.Y. (WHAM) - A man has been indicted on multiple charges after he was accused of breaking into a dead woman's motel room in Gates, stealing her dog and leaving without telling anyone she had died.

Jose Pena, 35, was indicted by a Monroe County grand jury on second-degree burglary and tampering with evidence charges.

On October 20, hotel surveillance cameras at the Motel 6 on Buell Road showed a man leaving with a dog. A police investigation determined Pena went to the room occupied by Heather Wait at the motel. When he knocked on the door and no one answered, police said Pena broke into the room through a window and found her dead on the bed. He allegedly photographed her body, stole her dog, then left her there dead and alone.

Police say Pena also stole the victim's cell phone in order to prevent investigators from seeing text messages that might lead back to him.

Officers were not called to the Motel 6 about Wait's death until October 23.

Police were able to track Pena down, arrest him and charge him with burglary, petit larceny and tampering with physical evidence.

The dog, Shameus, was eventually found and returned to Wait's family.

There is no word yet on when Pena will be arraigned.

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