In a bizarre case in Gates, a man has been charged with breaking into a motel room and photographing a woman who lay dead from a drug overdose.
The man also is accused of stealing the woman's beloved dog when he left — without notifying authorities of the woman's death.
The dog, a pit bull named Shamus, was later recovered.
The alleged photographer and thief, Jose R. Pena, was apprehended and charged with 2nd-degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence and petit larceny, Gates police said in a news release Tuesday. The first two offenses are felonies.
He is scheduled to appear in Gates Town Court Tuesday afternoon. Pena, 35, lives on Copley Street in Rochester, police said.
The macabre incident took place on the evening of October 20, when police said Pena went to visit a female acquaintance who had checked into a room at the Motel 6 on Buell Road in Gates.
After knocking on the door of her room and getting no response, he went outside the building and broke into the room through a window, police alleged.
Once inside, Pena found the 30-year-old woman dead. Authorities later determined she died of an apparent drug overdose.
"He then proceeded to photograph her body with his cell phone; he took her cell phone to conceal any evidence, and stole the victim’s most precious belonging, her dog," the news release said.
He took the phone because it contained text messages he'd sent the woman, and he didn't want authorities to know of his association with her, police said.
They didn't say why Pena photographed the dead woman.
The man also took Shamus and some dog food that the woman had in the room, police said.
Pena left the motel without notifying police or motel management of the woman's death, police said. Her body was found by housekeeping staff three days later.
Pena had been banned from Motel 6 in August for panhandling, police said.
Gates police said their investigation was "significantly compromised" by Pena's alleged theft of the woman's cell phone. They nonetheless identified him and arrested him Thursday.
He was arraigned and sent to Monroe County Jail. He is due in town court at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Shamus was recovered and given to the deceased woman's family.