Kent State community reacts to sorority stalker arrest

Safety has been on the minds of many in the Kent State community following various incidents that have occurred over the last few months. 

Among these incidents were the appearances of a man in a red speedo, on the front porches of the Alpha Phi and Delta Gamma sorority houses wearing a Speedo swimsuit. Steven Franzreb, 43, was arrested on Oct. 11 and has been charged with two counts of menacing by stalking and two counts of public indecency in relation to the incidents. 

Prior to his arrest, however, there was a sense of fearfulness among many students and members of the Kent State community.  

“We had some phone calls that came in, just concerned parents or concerned students who needed some reassurance that we were out there, which of course we were,” said Community Resource Officer Tricia Knoles.

Before Franzreb’s arrest, the Kent State University Police Department increased its visibility and had extra patrol around Greek Village to promote a feeling of safety and assist in locating the suspect, Knoles said. 

In addition to KSUPD’s efforts, the Kent Police Department also increased its safety measures.  

“This was very, very high on our list of priorities to do everything we could to make the community feel safe and do everything we could to apprehend this person,” said Lieutenant Michael Lewis.  

Lewis said the city of Kent police were understanding of students’ apprehension and maintained regular communication, particularly with the sororities.

Even though Franzreb has been arrested, some students have changed their behaviors and have a heightened sense of awareness.   

Alyssa Rogers, senior fashion merchandising major and member of Alpha Xi Delta, said although her sorority house isn’t in Fraternity Circle, there was a definite sense of fear. For Rogers, it even drove her to seek increased protection. 

“I asked my dad for a stun gun,” Rogers said. 

While this incident has affected some students’ behavior and caused them to be fearful of being alone on campus, other students still feel secure.  

Although he knew about the incident at the track, Kwincy Hall, sophomore business major, was unaware of the incident at the sorority houses. Despite this, Hall said knowing Franzreb has been arrested is reassuring.   

Sarah Denison, freshman exploratory major, said she still feels safe on campus and hasn’t altered her behavior. However, the incident has made her more wary.

“I would like to think that they are less afraid since he’s been taken into custody,” Lewis said. “It does certainly create some more awareness that there are some dangerous people out there.”    

This message of increased awareness was reinforced by Knoles as well. 

“Being aware of your surroundings, I would say, would be the number one thing,” she said. “Walk in a group or at least have another person with you, not  being by yourself. If you do find that you are by yourself trying to walk back, there’s the escort service or, what I tell people, if you see another group of people, try to walk close behind them.”  

The escort service, which is offered from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., is run by student security aides the security aides are all background checked and in direct communication with the KSUPD, Knoles said. The number for the escort service is 330-672-7004.   

Beyond the escort service are the blue-light phones. These phones allow people in distress to call for emergency help with the push of a button. There are approximately 50 phones on campus that are strategically placed with GPS locators that put callers in direct contact with a dispatcher, Knoles said. 

“If there is one positive thing that comes out of this, it’s maybe a reminder that everyone does need to remain vigilant and do everything that they can to make sure that they stay safe,” Lewis said. 

Contact Abigail Mack at [email protected]