Editor’s note: The victim in this story is identified with a pseudonym to avoid publicizing the location of her family’s normally vacant guesthouse.
“Jane Doe” arrived Dec. 26 at a guesthouse owned by her mother in Marion, along with three carloads of family. They were in town to visit her mother over the Christmas vacation.
All three groups arrived at the same time, and while people were unloading and talking, Doe went to the basement to wash sheets so everyone would have fresh bedding during the stay.
As she entered the basement, she heard the walkout door to the basement slam shut. She went to the door and called out, “Hello,” but there was no answer, so she went back to work on the laundry.
After she pulled the sheets off the beds and opened the washing machine to put them in, she found a load of wet towels in the washing machine. It was apparent the towels hadn’t been in there long.
Doe called one of her sisters to ask whether anyone had been staying at the house recently, but she didn’t answer. When her sister called back about 9 p.m., she said nobody had been in the house recently enough to explain the towels in the laundry. That was when Doe realized there had been an intruder staying in the house, unknown to the family, and she had very nearly walked in on them.
“We abandoned the thought of anyone sleeping in the basement,” she said.
Instead, the entire family slept on the floor upstairs. She said she and the rest of the family felt “violated and nervous.”
They called the police, changed the locks, and made certain to lock all of the windows before leaving.
Doe said there were several strange circumstances surrounding the incident. The intruder bothered to wash the towels, nothing was stolen, and the house wasn’t vandalized at all. Likewise, the intruder didn’t leave any items behind, so they must not have been carrying much with them.
“Now I feel oddly comforted that no damage was done,” Doe said Monday.
The intruder probably got into the house using a key that was marginally hidden at an entrance hidden from view from the street and neighboring houses. Doe said they certainly won’t be leaving a spare key out any more.
The family has a caretaker who randomly checks on the home, but he didn’t see any signs that anyone unexpected was there, she said.
Doe said she hopes her mother doesn’t find out about the intruder, because she doesn’t want her to worry about it.
Doe offered some advice for anyone who has a house that is often vacant:
- Lock all doors and windows whenever the house is vacant.
- Don’t leave keys where they could be found.
- Have someone check on the house occasionally.
Marion Police Sgt. Clinton Jeffrey said the department also has a home security check program. If the department is notified that a family will be on vacation or otherwise have a vacant home, they can pay closer attention to it in case of unexpected activity. Residents may sign up for the program at the police office or online at http://www.marionks.com/homesecuritycheck.php.