“My wife was downstairs in the basement. She gave me a call saying that she thought that someone was upstairs, I raced home and walked into the house and there they were,” said Rob Friese at the scene.
His wife Lisa, had taken refuge in the near by woods, able to get out of the home before the individuals upstairs knew that she was at home.
“My wife is OK, she actually left the home when she heard things upstairs, hid in the woods and called me from her cell phone. Telling me that she was out in the woods hiding, out of the house and that she was OK. I have to hand it to her for thinking on her feet like that. She did a wonderful job.”
It was the first time that this type of home invasion had happened to the Lebam couple, and Friese says that it does make you think about home security. “We have family all around, so I was not sure if it was family or not who were in the house. I armed myself with a claw hammer, which I grabbed from the garage when I got there. I walked in and what looked like a couple of guys were right there. They had entered the house and were looking to…well, they were robbing the house, taking things and stuffing them into backpacks. I chased them out of the house, (and) they ran off in two different directions and out into the woods. I have talked to a few people who this has happened to and it is scary to think about it, that your home is not as secure as you might think.”
No one was hurt and nothing was taken as the thieves dropped what they had and fled, it was then that Friese called 911 to alert local authorities.
“We got the call just before noon, (March 27), with a person home alone. Raymond Police, Pacific County Sheriff Office, South Bend and Shoalwater Bay police set up a containment area and brought in a tracking K9. We worked the area for about two hours, the trail went cold by a road on the other side of the woods,” said Chief Pat Matlock with Pacific County Sheriffs Office.
“We had some information from Mr. Friese, noting that he encountered two individuals in the act, wearing big stocking caps, but not covering their faces. Additionally, items had been left at the scene and we are still processing them,” said Matlock at the scene.
After officers worked the scene gathering evidence, questioning neighbors and crossing people off their short list, one possible suspect was targeted after positive image identification from the witness, Jeffrey L. Hunter, 52, of Grayland was on the loose. With an active search in the local area, it was another call from a resident at approximately 6:30 pm, who said that a man had just come to their home asking to use a phone. Members of the home were able to detain Hunter long enough for Pacific County Sheriff officers to arrive.
“Hunter admitted his involvement in the burglary and verified the identity of the second suspect as a female named Mandy C. Mitchell, age 35 of Aberdeen. As deputies continued the investigation into the location of Mitchell, the communications center received a report from an alert citizen just after midnight that Mitchell had knocked on his door and asked for assistance. The deputies and officers responded to the scene, which was miles from the original incident, and she was gone when they arrived. They continued to search the area and they received another call from a residence near by regarding Mitchell’s whereabouts. At about 2:30 am deputies arrested Mitchell,” outlined the official news report.
Hunter and Mitchell were both booked into the Pacific County Jail. Hunter is being held on charges of Residential Burglary, Possession of Methamphetamine and several outstanding warrants. Mitchell held on charges of Residential Burglary, Narcotics charges and an outstanding Department of Corrections Felony warrant.
“I can not say enough about the quick response and professionalism of the police. They did a great job,” said Friese.
The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office also extended a thank you for the team effort of all agencies involved in the apprehensions of Hunter and Mitchell. And to the general public and citizens that reside within the area that the incident occurred. A thank you for their assistance in keeping a keen eye open for anything that assisted them with the investigation.