PANAMA CITY — A man known in his trailer park as “Santa Claus” has been convicted of breaking into a neighbor’s home to leave her notes and panties he wanted to see her wear.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Isitro Lee Sanches in April 2017 after serving a search warrant on his Kimbrel Avenue trailer in Callaway, where they found about 90 pounds of women’s underwear. After a one-day trial, jurors on Friday found Sanches, 59, guilty as charged Thursday on three counts of burglary and a count of aggravated stalking.
Sanches faces up to 40 years in prison on the combined charges, according to the State Attorney’s Office. His sentencing is set for May 11.
Prosecutor Calie Rivera told the jury that from January to April 2017, one of Sanches’ neighbors received countless notes and pieces of undergarments in her car, on her front porch and inside her home on her bed. Within each note was a subtle message that a stranger was watching her and waiting for the day he could see her in the underwear he’d picked.
“This case was a nightmare,” Rivera said. “It was one long nightmare from January to April 2017.”
Sanches’ defense attorney, Seth Killion, argued that prosecutors had no direct evidence that tied him to the stalking charge. He conceded Sanches was in her home, but that he did not have a criminal intent.
“The only thing they are going to prove is that he was there,” Killion told the jury. “But they won’t be able to prove he was there with intent to commit a crime.”
The jury disagreed.
Rivera presented bag after bag of panties to the jury during the woman’s testimony, having her read aloud the notes attached. The woman said while the jury saw numerous panties in the trial, she hadn’t been able to collect all of them.
The woman said on top of the growing task of collecting all the evidence, she and her family also became scared and eventually were forced to moved.
“My kids were scared,” she told the jury. “We had to get hotels a few times. I had to move as soon as school got out.”
BCSO initially responded in January 2017 to a stalking complaint after the woman found about eight pairs of panties and a note inside her unlocked car. Months passed, and she continued to find women’s underwear on her front porch, in her kitchen and on her bed. After she went to work April 13, 2017, her boyfriend heard someone enter the residence and confronted a male neighbor known as “Santa Claus” in the kitchen.
“He found a man in the kitchen staring back at him and demanded answers,” Rivera said. “Instead, the man he confronted stared off like a deer in headlights. He then walked to the door and used his shirt to turn the knob and leave.”
Sanches then walked home to his trailer, looking over his shoulder to see the boyfriend in pursuit. After that, BCSO obtained a search warrant and recovered three 30-pound bags of women’s underwear from Sanches’ home.
It’s unclear if there were other victims, but the woman said she was traumatized by the experience.
“He was just my neighbor — we waved a couple times,” she said. “I felt violated and scared — scared for my children.”