November 10th last year, I came home late. I'd eaten dinner with my sister and brother-in-law and didn't make it home until just after 10 PM. As I walked to the front of the house, I noticed the ladder that I'd left leaning against the porch posts had fallen over. I thought that it was a little odd, but I figured the wind and storms we'd been having must have blown it over. Then, as I rounded the corner, I saw that the front door was standing wide open. For a moment I thought that the wind had blown the door open too, but the splintered wood and broken doorknob proved me wrong. The door had obviously been kicked-in.
At this point, most people ask me what I did, and when I tell them that I went into the house, some of them are mortified. "What if they'd still been there?" To be honest, I didn't consider it much at the time because I was pretty sure that no one was still there.
We live in the middle of nowhere, so any thief with hopes of taking more than they could easily carry and walk with for a few miles would have to bring a car, truck, or four-wheeler at least. The house was dead silent too. The Devil Queen reverbs with sound like an acoustic guitar. Any significant noise is amplified and projected. When I'm out in the garden, I can easily hear Gideon's footsteps as he runs from one end of the house to the other.
It took a while to figure out what happened, or what we think happened. Our guess is that some time during the day, probably between 10 AM to 3 PM, two young men between the ages of 18-22 drove out to the Devil Queen. They probably live in the area (Atkins, Crow Mountain, or even Russellville) and have friends or know people in our neighborhood. They probably drive by on a semi-regular basis. They know everyone's schedules and knew that not only would we be at work, but that most of our neighbors would be too. The front door is hard to see from the road, so they were sheltered from view once they made it to the porch.
The industrious little bastards that they were, they apparently tried to disassemble the lock with a screw driver and some WD-40 that I'd left on the porch with all the junk for installing the storm windows. I'm not sure what they hoped to accomplish with the WD-40. Aside from making the front door slick, it looks like it just made a mess and pissed them off. They broke the doorknob off, and at this point, they just kicked in the door.
Things get strange at this point. Who ever had the WD-40 was either:
a.) Very nervous and forgot they were spraying WD-40 in all the excitement of breaking and entering,
b.) Was hoping to obscure their fingerprints with the WD-40,
c.) Was a vandalizing jerk in addition to being a thief, or
d.) Some combination of all of the above.
Personally, I believe that it was a combination of b.& c. as did the Pope County Sheriff's Deputies.
In any case, the dick with the WD-40 ran from the front door to the chest of drawers in the foyer, from the chest of drawers to the armoire in the hall, and from the armoire to the master bedroom. They went to the dresser, the two night stands, and the small armoire in the corner. All piece of furniture above and the floor in between were coated in WD-40. This included the mirror on the dresser. Not only did they probably spray off the entire can, but they apparently took it with them since we never found it.
Aside from the front door which was ruined, the master bedroom was the worst. A pillow case had been stripped from the bed and used to haul off the loot. The mattress was slide off to one side, our clothes were all over and with WD-40 on them, the contents of my armoire were thrown all over the room, and everything was a mess in general.
Another odd bit about this robbery was Gideon's room. Someone went into his room and threw the closet door open. The closet only had some old clothes and shoes, so they didn't take anything. Then they ran over to Gideon's night stand which is really a small cabinet. It's about 2 1/2 feet tall and has two hinged doors on the front. They are held closed by a simple, light-weight hooked latch. The doors were thrown open without out opening the latch, and the hook portion was torn out of the wood. What they found inside were four of Gideon's favorite Matchbox cars and a story book which he'd placed there himself Sunday. Apparently, they had a moment of conscious and turned around and left. They didn't have the heart to rob a four year old, which as Scarlet said, "almost made it hard to totally hate them." They didn't take his 13 inch TV, his DVD player, or video game. They left the movies and games too.
The rest of the house was hit or miss. They stole power tools from the junk room at the front of the house. They took the DVD player from the built-in in the living room, but left the record player, the speakers, and the receiver. The dining room was untouched as was the kitchen. The pantry at the very back of the house was torn to pieces, but nothing was taken. The were obviously in a hurry.
Anyhow, it made for a long night. I'll try to finish up Part II and post it tomorrow.
Labels: disasters, true crime