SABATTUS — Kathryn Rothe woke up Thursday morning at 5:30 to her dogs causing a commotion outside and found a man in a hoodie standing in her dark hallway.

His only words before sauntering out of her Spruce Street house: “Haha, I guess I scared you.”

Police said the same man tried to get into other homes in the neighborhood Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at the same pre-dawn time before finally being arrested Thursday while rifling through a car.

Chief Sheila Wetherbee also said her hands are tied: None of the three homeowners wanted to press charges and she’s concerned about whose door he’ll try to open next.

“It could end in tragedy,” she said.

Rothe described the encounter as “absolutely terrifying,” prompting her to buy additional locks and install motion-activated lights.

“I know he clearly needs help; he also has his neighbors terrified because we don’t know who he is or what he’s capable of,” Rothe said.

Wetherbee said it started with a call early Tuesday morning: Someone tried to open a front door on Pebble Street and dogs alerted the homeowners.

“He said he was looking for his father,” she said. “He gave his name and he gave his father’s name. They said he seemed really out of it. They told him you can’t be here and that guy doesn’t live here and they shooed him off.”

The man walked around their backyard and the couple again told him to leave. By the time Wetherbee arrived, she saw no sign of him.

“We thought what we had that first day was either mistaken identity or they may have been looking to burglarize the home or steal something,” she said.

The next morning, there was another call on Beaver Road, across from Pebble Street. She rushed over.

“That (homeowner) said it was just really weird, the guy seemed kind of in a fog, he was knocking on our front door, trying to open it,” Wetherbee said. “I stayed in the area that time even longer and couldn’t find anyone, then I remembered he’d given a couple names the (day) before.”

She called and found the man’s father. It turned out the son lived in the neighborhood and wasn’t known to police.

“We had a conversation and he said he thought his son had a drug issue,” Wetherbee said. “I end up finding him and I talked to him and I take him in for an evaluation. They didn’t want to press charges because they felt like he was a guy with an issue; they didn’t want to press charges so we have no crime.”

On Thursday morning, Rothe heard her dogs barking and when she first saw a figure in the hallway, she assumed it was her partner.

“The light was off in the hallway, I had just gotten out of bed, I was a little disoriented, but then I looked beyond him and saw her in the bathroom brushing her teeth,” Rothe said. “My mouth dropped open and I put my hands over my mouth, that was just my reaction, and that’s when he said, ‘Haha, I guess I scared you.’ He just turned around and just slowly walked out of my house, the way he came. We followed him and locked the door and immediately called 911.”

Wetherbee said she found him later in someone’s car. “He was hallucinating, he said he was helping a couple people find their cellphone. At that point, I thought you know, this needs to stop, the neighborhood is getting pretty upset.”

The 32-year-old was arrested on charges of theft and criminal trespass and bailed himself out within the hour. Those charges will now be dropped without the evidence to support them.

“We really want (the homeowners) to work with us,” Wetherbee said. “It’s not that we wanted him to have a record, but he was in people’s homes and he’s scaring people and he’s going in their vehicles and that’s a crime, you can’t just do that, but we can’t charge him if we don’t have statements or any victims and they’re all saying that they feel sorry for him and know he has a problem and they don’t want to get involved.”

She expressed concerns to the man’s father about a next time and how that person might react.

“What I can share is he should not be in the area for about a week,” Wetherbee said. “His family was going to try and get him more help beyond that, but he’s an adult, if he doesn’t want to accept any, he goes home and he finds himself hallucinating again, he could walk into another person’s house. In fact, I almost would be surprised if it didn’t happen given the fact that we dealt with this three days in a row.”

She’s encouraging residents to lock their doors, let police know about any issues, and hoping he gets help.

Rothe said Friday that she was concerned word had not gotten out to the neighborhood that people needed to step up their vigilance.

“It was pretty awful,” she said. “I just feel like everyone needs to know this is going on. I don’t want that to happen to anybody else.

“I didn’t realize that that would tie their hands if I didn’t press charges,” she added, saying she thought serving him with a trespass notice would, legally, be enough.

“I didn’t know that that might change the direction this is going; I certainly will consider that,” Rothe said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: