RICHLAND _ Court documents show that a man arrested for breaking into a Richland woman’s home has a disturbing history of gaining entry into people’s house either through deception or by breaking in while they slept.
Frank Ellis IV, 32, was arrested last week after a woman woke around 6 a.m. up to find him in her home.
She told police she recognized him because he had asked her for a cigarette near her home a few days earlier.
Ellis fled when police arrived, but they found and arrested him later in the day.
He is being held in the Benton County jail on suspicion of second-degree burglary, resisting arrest and obstructing officers.
Now police are asking for anyone who thinks they may have had contact with him to give them a call.
The Herald obtained court records from Benton and Franklin counties that show he has a history of similar arrests.
- 2014 — Benton County
In 2014, Ellis was convicted of stalking an ex-girlfriend, with whom he shares two children.
The woman’s family, who she was living with at the time, had hired a private security guard because Ellis was harassing her. He had previously been trespassed from the property and a no-contact order was in place, but had yet to be served on him.
The security officer told Ellis to leave and saw what he believed was the outline of a gun in his waistband. Ellis returned two hours later and left again after seeing the security officer.
The officer contacted the police. Ellis was arrested and had a loaded 9mm with a round in the chamber in the passenger seat of his car.
He was sentenced to three months in jail.
- 2015 — Franklin County
An ex-girlfriend reported Ellis had been physically abusive. The domestic violence and unlawful imprisonment charges were eventually dismissed, but he was convicted of tampering with a witness related to those investigations. He served four days in jail.
- 2018 — Benton County
In 2018, he was arrested after stealing a phone from a hotel employee who was cleaning a room.
After security footage was posted to social media, Ellis was identified by his ex-wife. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 334 days suspended.
- 2019 — Benton County
In 2019, he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home. In October 2019 a Richland woman woke up at 3:30 a.m. to the smell of smoke. She found Ellis, who was her neighbor, in a back room. She began screaming for him to leave.
Ellis was trying to return to his home when police arrived. After a struggle, Ellis was found with a glass jar and a clear package later identified as methamphetamine. Ellis claimed the jar was not his, that it was garbage he was planning to throw away.
That charge was later dismissed. It’s unclear why the charge was dropped, but court records indicate it was done at the same time Ellis was sentenced for a different crime in 2021.
- 2020 — Benton County
In May 2020, police were called to an apartment complex on Stevens Drive about a man loitering near the back porch area of multiple apartments.
When police arrived and began to search, a resident told police the man, later identified as Ellis, was inside his apartment. Ellis had asked if he could charge his phone because he had locked his keys in his car.
The residents told police that when they arrived Ellis looked spooked and was whispering at them to tell police he wasn’t there. After Ellis left, they found a glass pipe and bag of meth tucked into the cushion of the seat where Ellis had been sitting.
That charge was also later dismissed when Ellis was sentenced in 2021.
In October 2020, a man called the police because someone he knew by the name of “Frankie” had taken his car and not returned it.
The car was not entered as stolen at that time because they had not agreed on when it needed to be returned.
Two days later the man recontacted police because the vehicle still had not been returned and he realized his wallet had been inside and someone had made several charges totaling more than $100.
Investigators later found Ellis had used the card to get a massage. He was arrested, found guilty and ordered to pay a $500 fine, but did not receive jail time.
- 2021 — Benton County
In 2021, Ellis was convicted of first-degree and second-degree criminal trespass related to a February 2021 incident in which he entered a home while the residents weren’t there, and later tried to break into the adjoining duplex when people were home. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 224 suspended and ordered to pay a $500 fine.
In that case Ellis had knocked on a couple’s door and said he was their neighbor. He asked to use a phone charger, but they declined and closed the door. Ellis began to knock louder and they thought he was trying to open the door.
A neighbor in the adjoining duplex saw what was happening. They said they didn’t know him, though Ellis was yelling that they did, as he continued trying to force his way inside. When the couple’s child began crying, a neighbor called 911.
Officers were given security footage that showed Ellis had been there earlier and entered the second duplex apartment when the neighbors weren’t home.