PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After weeks of being arrested, released and arrested again, Terri Lynn Zinzer — accused of breaking into multiple homes and sleeping in people’s beds — is being held in custody.
Now Zinzer has been found unable to aid and assist in her defense. She is being held on bail set at $10,000 for multiple criminal charges stemming from her alleged trespassing. Zinzer — whose name has also been spelled Zinser — has been put on the court’s aid and assist docket to help evaluate her mental health as well.
At a court hearing on Tuesday, it was revealed Zinzer was released from the Oregon State Hospital in July. Since then, there has been a series of arrests that mental health experts said exemplify the problems when someone in crisis meets the criminal justice system.
KOIN 6 first broke the news of Zinzer’s crime spree on Sept. 14 when Kelsey Smith, a homeowner in Northeast Portland, shared Ring camera footage showing Zinzer crawling into her son’s bedroom window and taking a nap in the child’s bed.
Zinzer was chased away from the home before being arrested in the neighborhood while allegedly trying to enter another person’s home a few blocks away.
She was released from jail shortly after when the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office did not pursue criminal charges against her.
More recently, Zinzer was arrested for allegedly breaking into another Portland home. This time a woman came home to find Zinzer not only in her bed but also wearing her dress.
Smith testified in court Tuesday morning to keep Zinzer behind bars.
“I feel like this is preventable, we need to keep her off of the streets, please,” said Smith.
She added, “I have a disabled quadriplegic son who could not have told me that there was somebody in his room. He could not have called out for help. He could not have done anything to defend himself and he could not have told me after the fact — and that is frightening.”
Court records show Zinzer has been arrested more than a dozen times for trespassing in the past and failed to show up in court for all of those occasions.
In court Tuesday afternoon, Zinzer — whose name has also been spelled Zinser — was ordered to undergo an evaluation after the judge determined she couldn’t help with her own defense.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said they cannot force people into treatment.
That mindset is something mental health experts, like Jason Renaud of the Mental Health Association of Portland, take issue with.
“People like her have been left without care and left on the streets of Portland,” Renaut told KOIN 6 News. “The problem with our system is that no one wants to be involved or very few people want involved with the system as it is. They want a different system and that system hasn’t been designed, much less built.”
Renaut points to ready access to inpatient mental health treatment beds as an option rather than people being referred to psychiatric care from emergency rooms or to the Oregon State Hospital. He said those are the most prevalent options right now.