Detroit Man Used Obituaries to Break into Homes, Steal from Grieving Families During Funerals

Jerry Ryan Ashley
Jerry Ryan Ashley Facebook

A Detroit man used obituaries to target families of people who had died recently so he could steal from them.

According to police, Jerry Ryan Ashley, 44, broke into the homes of the deceased while the family members were attending their funerals.

Ashley Read Obituaries, Looked Up Estate Sales to Learn About Items Inside the Homes

Police said Ashley would read obituaries and target homes in Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe, Ann Arbor, and Bloomfield Township.. He reportedly would visit estate sales to look at items that may be inside the home. During these thefts, police say he would steal family keepsakes and heirlooms.

"I can't think of anything lower to do than to victimize somebody when they're burying their loved one," Grosse Pointe Woods Police Chief John Kosanke said.

Ashley Monitored Social Media Activity, Pretended to Do Yard Work Before Breaking-In

Police also believe he may have monitored social media and made moves based on when people would be posting about vacations or not being at home. In some of the home invasions Ashley is tied to, authorities said he pretended to do yard work on the property before breaking in and stealing items.

Ashley was caught after investigators started connecting the dots following several break-ins. Home security video then caught him in the act. "I don't know if we've learned everything that he's done yet," Kosanke said.

Ashley, who has a record of home invasion, trespassing, malicious destruction of personal property, and breaking and entering with intent, is now facing several counts of breaking and entering. He is currently being held in jail on a high cash bond.