Man suspected of hiding in military family's home on Oahu is recharged with murder

·3 min read

Sep. 23—Ezequiel H. Zayas, who pleaded not guilty to murder Thursday in Circuit Court in the Aug. 31, 2020, beating death of a fellow inmate, gained notoriety for allegedly plotting to perform surgery on a couple while secretly living in their home at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Ezequiel H. Zayas, who pleaded not guilty to murder Thursday in Circuit Court in the Aug. 31, 2020, beating death of a fellow inmate, gained notoriety for allegedly plotting to perform surgery on a couple while secretly living in their home at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

James and Brittany Campbell returned home from vacation on Sept. 20, 2019, and Zayas allegedly opened the front door and refused to let them in. He had allegedly used their laptop to keep detailed information about them and planned to perform surgery on them, according to the Campbells.

Their true-crime story was featured on Lifetime TV's "Phrogging : Hider in My House, " which aired July 18.

An Oahu grand jury indicted the 29-year-old Sept. 16 on charges of first-degree murder in the death of 62-year-old inmate Vance J. Grace while awaiting trial in the Campbell house burglary case.

He was arraigned Thursday and entered his plea by video teleconferencing from Oahu Community Correctional Center. The judge ordered he be held without bail, and trial is set for Nov. 21.

Police said in court documents that correctional officers witnessed Zayas punching Grace in the head multiple times and that he allegedly stomped on Grace's head. Grace was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Court documents show Zayas told his pretrial officer that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia but that he had stopped taking his medications a month prior and began using cannabis. A judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest Oct. 14, 2019, following a motion by the state saying it received documents recovered from digital devices in the Campbells' home.

Those documents remain sealed, but likely contain what the Campbells revealed on the Lifetime show.

James Campbell, a Navy member, said a stranger inside his house tried to hold the door shut and told him, "This is not your house, " when he and his wife and two children returned home from a weeklong vacation.

Campbell grabbed a sledgehammer, managed to get Zayas out of the house and noticed he was wearing Campbell's clothes. His wife called police, and arriving officers arrested Zayas.

When the couple got inside, they found their house trashed, Brittany Campbell told the New York Post. But most disturbing were typed journal entries of details about the family and videos the intruder had made on one of their old laptops.

"This is when we realized this person had been in our home a lot longer, " she told the Post.

Brittany Campbell said she saw knives laid next to the computer and found a "manifesto " about plans to make the Campbells into the perfect people, including surgeries, sexual reconstruction and a hand transplant. She found a video the intruder made on her computer while he sat naked in her chair, she said on the series, the Post story said.

She also said the intruder knew personal information about them that they had not shared with anyone, including that she had been undergoing fertility treatments.

The couple began recalling strange events, including a computer webcam turning on in the middle of the night, doors left unlocked or open, and the dog barking, the July 18 article said.

Court records show Zayas was found unfit to proceed to trial, and he was transferred Feb. 4, 2020, to the Hawaii State Hospital.

On Tuesday a hearing on his mental fitness in three criminal cases was continued to Oct. 18.

The cases include the murder ; an Oct. 9, 2019, second-degree burglary for illegally entering the Buddhist Study Center on University Avenue, while out on bail ; and a second-degree assault case of an employee at a mental health facility on June 12, 2020.