NORRISTOWN — An Upper Hanover man who ignored police warnings to stay away from his ex-girlfriend faces time in jail after he illegally entered the woman’s Lower Merion residence and proceeded to send her text messages indicating he was waiting for her in her bedroom, behavior that caused the woman fear.
Westley N. Harpel, 33, of the 2200 block of Warner School Road, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 11½ to 23 months in the county jail after he pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, possessing a firearm with an altered manufacturer’s serial number and stalking in connection with incidents at the victim’s Cricket Avenue residence in Lower Merion.
Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who accepted a plea agreement in the case, also ordered Harpel to complete five years’ probation following parole, meaning Harpel will be under court supervision for about seven years. The judge ordered Harpel to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend and to forfeit a Hi-Point Model JHP .45-caliber handgun to county detectives for destruction.
The investigation began on Dec. 14, 2019, when the victim went to the Lower Merion Police Department and reported that her ex-boyfriend, Harpel, sent her a text message that day inquiring why she keeps ignoring him, according to the criminal complaint filed by Lower Merion Police Officer Joshua Bills.
The woman did not respond to the text and at 5:46 p.m. Harpel sent the woman another text message stating, “Tell me what u want for dinner & I’ll get it…if not I’ll be spending quality time w my bed. Ur apartment is now clean-ish thanks to me tho,” according to the arrest affidavit.
“(The woman) stated she immediately decided to come to the police station to file a report and to have police check her apartment because she was fearful that Harpel was in her apartment,” Bills wrote in court papers, adding the woman informed police she had locked her apartment door when she left for work that morning.
FROM #MontcoPa #Court: An #UpperHanover man who ignored police warnings to stay away from his ex-girlfriend is jailed after he illegally entered the woman’s #LowerMerion apt & sent her text messages indicating he was waiting for her in her bedroom, causing her fear.Story coming— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) September 16, 2020
The woman told police she had ended a relationship with Harpel the previous August and since that time Harpel had been “consistently sending her text messages and photographs” and that she had told Harpel to cease communicating with her, according to court documents.
Court papers indicate the woman previously reported to police that Harpel showed up at her residence uninvited in the early morning hours of Dec. 6 and when he was not permitted inside he remained outside and subsequently followed her to her workplace. At that time, police warned Harpel that he was to have no further contact with the woman and was not permitted to be at the woman’s residence.
“Over the course of the last few months, Harpel has sent (the woman) hundreds of text messages. The content of the messages varied from attempts to rekindle their relationship to insulting (the woman),” Bills wrote in the arrest affidavit. “Harpel also sent messages that were sexual in nature. (The woman) advised she has been living in fear due to Harpel’s behavior and has had to move three times to hide from Harpel.”
While the woman was meeting with Lower Merion police on Dec. 14 she received another text message from Harpel in which he stated, “Bed and I are still very close friends,” according to court papers.
Police immediately responded to the woman’s residence in the 100 block of Cricket Avenue and using a key provided by the woman entered the woman’s apartment. As officers stepped inside, they heard a male voice call out, “I’m in my own bed.” As police shouted commands Harpel revealed himself and he was taken into custody, according to the arrest affidavit.
When police searched the apartment, they found a pile of clothes belonging to Harpel near the woman’s bed as well as three prescription bottles belonging to Harpel. Police alleged they found a small amount of marijuana and a crystalized, rock-like substance that appeared to be methamphetamine inside the pill containers.
In charging documents, authorities alleged they also linked Harpel to possessing a firearm with an altered manufacturer serial number.
As part of the plea agreement, in exchange for Harpel’s guilty plea to the felony burglary and weapons charge, other charges of possessing an instrument of crime, unlawful dissemination of intimate images, defiant trespass, possession of controlled substances, harassment and firearms not to be carried without a license were dismissed against Harpel.