In April 2013, a Virginia Beach judge accepted Ted Olsen’s claims that he was suffering from a psychotic episode when he spray-painted multiple houses in his neighborhood and threw rocks through car windows.
The judge found Olsen not guilty by reason of insanity and allowed him to be released from jail on the condition he get regular psychiatric care and stay with his stepfather in Newport News. Later, he was allowed to return to his Virginia Beach home. A lengthy story about how Olsen ended up charged in the case was featured in The Pilot in December 2013.
All seemed to be going well until the summer of 2019, when a family living a few miles from Olsen became the victims of several bizarre vandalism incidents.
More than once, nails were left in their driveway. In addition, rocks were thrown through their children’s bedroom windows and a homophobic slur was spray-painted on their garage. That August, a rental car in their driveway was set on fire.
The family put up surveillance cameras after the second nail incident. During some of the later acts of vandalism, the camera caught a black Toyota 4Runner driving by. One video captures a man in a ski mask walking across the lawn and spray-painting the camera.
During a hearing Friday in Virginia Beach General District Court, Olsen’s former girlfriend and a police detective identified the SUV on the video as belonging to Olsen. The vehicle had three distinctive triathlon stickers on its rear window and plenty of chrome detailing, they said.
Shanna Oden, the former girlfriend, also identified Olsen as the man in the ski mask. She said the man walked the same as Olsen and she had seen him wearing a mask like it. A photo of Olsen in a ski mask was entered into evidence.
Virginia Beach District Court Judge Afshin Farashahi found Olsen guilty of two counts of destruction of property for one of the rock-throwing incidents and the spray-painting of the camera. The judge also ruled there was enough evidence on a felony arson charge in the car burning incident to send the case on to a grand jury.
Farashahi sentenced Olsen, 46, to 260 days in jail for the misdemeanor destruction convictions but agreed to allow the Navy veteran to remain free on bond while he awaits trial on the arson charge.
Olsen’s attorney, Kenneth Jacobsen, argued that Olsen was not involved and that he didn’t see any stickers on the window of the SUV in the surveillance video. Olsen’s stepfather testified that the man seen wearing the ski mask was much thinner than Olsen.
During a recorded phone call with his ex-girlfriend, Olsen claimed he didn’t have the stickers on his window anymore, but police saw them on his SUV that day. The stickers were removed shortly after Olsen’s call with his girlfriend.
Mendy Hanner, the woman who lives at the vandalized house with her husband and their five children, testified she didn’t know Olsen. She said the vandalism had been extremely upsetting to the family, especially the children, who received counseling afterwards and were afraid to sleep in their rooms.
“It’s better now,” Hanner said. “But for the first nine months to a year it was really bad.”
Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, email@example.com