In an interview with The Times, Nilton DeSousa described his younger brother Irton, arrested last week, as a man with a troubled history of alcohol abuse. He said his family is shocked at the allegations, but does not believe Irton DeSouza is responsible for all of the “peeping tom” incidents, or either of the home intrusions and assaults alleged by police.
Nilton DeSousa, who said he is a United States citizen, said he came to Martha’s Vineyard 15 years ago. He said his brother Irton followed him a few years later, entering the country illegally in 2001. (The brothers’ last names are spelled differently because of a mix-up in birth records, Nilton DeSousa said). “He came here for the same situation I did, trying to get a better future, to make some money and go back home,” Mr. DeSousa said.
Nilton DeSousa said his brother lives in a basement apartment in his home on Onondaga Avenue. It was there that police took his brother into custody last Thursday night.
Mr. DeSousa said he had no idea why his brother was wanted for questioning, so he went to the Oak Bluffs police station in the early morning hours of Friday, where police showed him a surveillance picture captured a few hours earlier.
“It was very close, looked like him,” Mr. DeSousa said
Mr. DeSousa was in court for his brother’s arraignment on Friday and visited him at the Dukes County Jail on Monday. “He said he is so scared and under so much pressure,” Mr. DeSousa said. “We’re all in shock.”
Mr. DeSousa said federal immigration officials have contacted his brother at the jail. “Someone from Boston called him up and told him he’s going to be deported, she’s just waiting for the court to finish with him,” Mr. DeSousa said. “That’s what we want, I want, he wants too. I’m concerned about his health. I don’t want him to stay here. Anyone in his situation, I prefer he goes home. This is a wonderful place, but it’s not the place we’re born, it’s different.”
In relating his conversations with his brother, Mr. DeSousa said his brother admitted he is responsible for approaching the house where he was caught on surveillance cameras twice, but for no other peeping incidents, and no assaults on women in their homes.
“Ninety percent is not him,” Mr. DeSousa said. “There’s no way. How is he walking from here all the way to Potato Farm Road? Bayview, he doesn’t even know where Bayview is. He said ‘You’re nuts, I’ve never been in anybody’s house.'” Potato Farm Road and Bayview Avenue are cited in court records as the locations where Irton DeSouza is charged with entering the homes and assaulting women, in two separate incidents.
During the visit at the jail, Mr. DeSousa said he told his brother, “You’ve got to have something wrong with you. You have to go to the doctor. For me to be able to help you out, I have to take you to the doctor. There’s something wrong with your mind. I believe you only did this two times, but even for those two times, that’s wrong. It’s not the right thing to do,'” Mr. DeSousa said.
Like many of his neighbors, Mr. DeSousa said for several years he heard stories of a man looking into people’s homes, and even discussed it with his brother. He said he was never aware that his brother was leaving his basement apartment at night and never suspected he might be responsible for the crimes.
He described his brother Irton as someone who went to St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven regularly. He worked sporadically for a local landscaper during the summer, but was out of work at the time of his arrest. He said his brother had only a few friends here on the Island. “He has the most friends in Boston and Connecticut, they grew up together,” Mr. DeSousa said. “He has some friends here too. He’s pretty much home the whole time.”
Mr. DeSousa said his brother’s problems stem from a problem with alcohol, and that their family has a long history of alcohol abuse.
“He drinks. That’s his problem, drink,” Mr. DeSousa said. After his brother was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol in 2005, he was ordered by the court to undergo a driver’s alcohol education class. Mr. DeSousa said his brother completed the requirement. “He did follow all that stuff,” Mr. DeSousa said. “It was good at that time, because he didn’t drink. He did stop. But the thing is, all his friends all drink. That’s hard because it’s been in his blood.”