After some Ohio State students found an unknown housemate living in their basement, others at OSU are feeling more unsure about the safety of their off-campus housing.
The students, who live on 13th Avenue, thought a locked door in the basement led to a utility closet. When one of the house’s residents opened the door, they found a bedroom complete with framed photographs and textbooks, said Jimmy Alderman, a fourth-year in civil engineering.
The residents had the locks changed that night and posted a note asking their houseguest to call them, said resident Brett Mugglin, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering. A man named Jeremy contacted them and then moved his belongings out of the room.
“He was a nice enough guy,” Mugglin said Sept. 9. “He just wasn’t supposed to be there.”
Some OSU students said they couldn’t have imagined that situation happening to them.
“I would never check my basement,” said Martin Kong, a graduate student in computer studies. “I mean, who has to check their basement for security purposes? That’s just creepy.”
Christian Brickman, a second-year in construction systems management and resident of the house, said he opened the door Aug. 30 and was surprised at what he saw.
“I just took a screwdriver and popped off the door, and there was all his stuff,” Brickman said.
Brickman lives on the first floor of the house with four other people. The second and third floors are rented to 10 people on a separate lease.
“It was really frightening to hear that there was a guy living in our basement,” Brickman said. “He could have easily walked into our kitchen from the setup, could have walked upstairs, broken into anybody’s stuff.”
During the summer, Mugglin walked into the basement and encountered a man who said he had wondered when he was going to meet the new residents of the house. When asked if he lived on the first floor, the man skirted around the question, Mugglin said. He later identified that man as their unexpected houseguest, Jeremy.
The story received national and international attention since being reported by The Lantern last week. A Lantern YouTube video about the situation had nearly 130,000 views as of Thursday night and the story has been picked up by outlets such as USA Today, Gawker and the UK Daily Mail.
Brickman said he can’t believe the attention the story has received.
“It’s so crazy,” he said.
NorthSteppe Realty, the leasing company of the home, referred The Lantern to Graff & McGovern, LPA, for comment. Graff & McGovern did not return multiple calls requesting comment.
Some students in the area weren’t worried when they heard the story.
“It doesn’t seem like a very big deal to me,” said Graham Welsh, a second-year in exploration who lives on 13th Avenue. “You gotta wonder where the guy came from, how he got in there in the first place.”
Jeremy’s cousin had lived in the house the year before and gave him a key to live in the basement, according to the current residents of the house. NorthSteppe has since changed the locks on the property.
Attempts to contact Jeremy were unsuccessful.
Finding a secret roommate in his basement has made Brickman feel “100 percent less safe,” but it is important the story gets out, he said.
“People should know,” Brickman said. “It could happen to anybody.”
Kathryne Solove contributed to this story.