This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.
A knock on the door? How long have I been asleep? I look at the clock. It’s nearly 7 am. The dog is barking like crazy. She hates it when people are on the front porch, even if it’s just us; a knock on the door and she goes bonkers. She’s a small dog, only about two feet tall at her shoulders. She looks like a miniature German Shepherd. The knocking gets louder and more insistent. I put my pillow over my head. Irritating people. I hear my husband’s heavy, deliberate step toward the door and the lock unbolting.
Male voices. I can’t hear exactly what they are saying but they are serious. “Hold the dog, sir.” My husband, “Ok. I’ve got her. She doesn’t bite.” Seconds of talking and big, hurried footsteps on the stairs. Now I’m curious. I sit up in bed to watch two men with guns drawn walk into my room. The guns are pointed at me. “Don’t move.” I don’t see uniforms, only yellow writing on black bullet proof vests. I can see the velcro straps sticking out. There is enough light to see clearly by, but the room is still shadowed by the big avocado tree outside. I hear “Don’t move.” again. “Ok.”
I’m sitting up in bed confused but not scared. The first man to enter the room holds his gun on me, while the second walks past him. He swiftly walks through my room and into the small dormer room at the front of the house, my step-daughter’s bedroom, gun drawn. A second passes. “Clear.” He comes out. There is a third man on the landing. “Single female. Second story clear.” I hear the radio cackle, two or three other voices say “clear”, and then one minute later an “all clear.” The man looks at me. “Maam. Come with me.” “Can I put some pants on first?”, I soberly ask. He speaks down the stairs. “We need a female officer up here.” Two seconds later, she arrives and the men head back down the stairs.
The female officer says nothing but “Go ahead and get dressed.” I quietly grab my sweatpants from the floor and put them on. “Come with me, please.” She follows me down the stairs and has me sit on the bottom step. “Wait here.” I hear my boys talking quietly with their Dad in the next room.
Sitting on the lower landing of our staircase, looking at the downstairs bathroom door, the light is on. My step-daughter must have been just about ready to leave for school. It’s 7 am. She’d be leaving about now. I hear her questioning voice with my mother-in-law’s in her living room on the other side of the bathroom. To my left is our front door. It’s open. There is a man on the front porch and one in the doorway to the living room with my husband and sons. Why are we all separate? I hear lots of people walking and talking, looking for things? Who are they looking for? “This neighborhood is getting ridiculous.”, I think. “I bet this is really about our next door neighbors.” Strange people moved in a year ago and they have different people in and out of the house all day. They are going to be so embarrassed when they realize they have the wrong house.
The officers continued to search the house while we sat there. Once the house was thoroughly searched for people, they began to interview the adults. They asked my mother-in-law to speak with them and I heard the door shut. I hear my sons asking their Dad if they can get up, they need a drink. Even in the serious air of the situation, little boys just aren’t able to sit quiet and still for very long. A few minutes later, she came out and they asked my husband back. Grandma came over and sat with the kids. I hear my step-daughter talking about getting to school. When my husband returns, I hear my mother-in-law ask if she can leave to take my step-daughter to school.
About twenty minutes passed when a man in a suit came to me at the stairs and asked me to come with him. He escorts me to the back of the house. We pass by my family. They look worried. I see my sons’ toy guns laid out on a cabinet near the officers in the room. The boys jump up. “Mommy!” Dad holds them close to him. “Stay with me. Mommy has to talk to the policeman.” “Are they looking for bad guys, Dad?”, I hear my older son say. “My gun.”, my youngest babbles, pointing to his toys. “My In Jone!” He’s two and believes he is Indiana Jones. He takes it very seriously.
I walk into the room and he asks me to sit on the couch. The officer sits down in the chair across from me. He’s pleasant and polite, not rushed, not angry or gruff. “Do you know why we are here, Mrs. Huelle?” Confused I answer, “No.” “Are you sure about that?”, he says. I’m actually in shock that this is happening at our house. I feel like we’re in a TV show. It’s all happening just like “Law & Order.” and I say so. He introduces himself as Detective Austin. He says he’s looking for a robbery suspect. They have a warrant to search the house. I just look at him. I honestly didn’t react at all. I just sat there staring. I’d never had cops in my house. He looks unfazed. “If you really have no idea why we’re here, I’m sure this is a bit shocking. I have some questions if you don’t mind. Maybe we can clear this up.” I shake my head, “I’m willing to answer anything. I hope I can help.”
The interview continued for several minutes. He told me the robbery happened at a mall in the next town. “I know that mall. I used to work there when I was in high school.” “Can you tell me where you were on this night?” He asks. “I’m not sure. I’d have to look at my calendar. I keep notes about our schedule there.” I explained that I sometimes worked different nights at Disneyland, I had a bible study on Wednesday nights, and that I usually stayed home in the evenings other than that. I’m a nervous out at night alone. It’s not the best of neighborhoods. And I’d rather be at home with my husband when he comes home from work. “After the robbery, the perpetrator went to a nearby restaurant. Have you been there?” “Yes. It’s right by the mall. We had my Grandfather’s birthday dinner there about three years ago.”
The interview continued for a few more minutes. He asked me about a safe in the house, whether I knew how to open it. It was my husbands. He’d had it before we met and I know he told me the combination was somebody’s birthday but I couldn’t remember who. He asked if I’d ever fired a gun. At first, I said no, but then remembered we went shooting a couple times with my step-dad when we were kids. He also asked weirder questions like where I kept my clothes. I’ve never been much into fashion. I had t-shirts and tennis shoes, jeans and sweatpants. It’d be hard to tell between my dresser drawer and my husbands other than underwear. I think I own a dress somewhere and a couple nice shirts for special occasions. It was such a strange interview. There was never a time when I felt uncomfortable or uneasy. He seemed honest and sympathetic. I answered all his questions honestly and completely, offering additional information as I thought of it. I wanted to help catch this person, too!
At the end of the interview, the detective told me that I had been picked out of a line-up by two different people as the person that had robbed a woman in a parking lot, attempted to steal a car at gun point, and then used a stolen credit card to buy dinner and drinks, tipping extravagantly. “You’re under arrest. We’ll go out the back door to a car. We won’t handcuff you in front of your children.” I just sat there in complete shock. I felt nothing. No tears, no anxiety, nothing. He asked me to walk out back with a couple of police officers. I numbly complied and said nothing as they put handcuffs on me, read me my rights (now that they were arresting me), and put me in an unmarked car.
I wasn’t exactly worried. Shocked, confused how this could happen, strangely intrigued by the event, that’s the best I can describe it. I’ll admit my high dose anti-anxiety medication probably helped a lot. I just kept thinking it was interesting and that it would all be cleared up as soon as they figured out who I was, that I couldn’t possibly be the person they were looking for. This was not how I thought my day would go at all.
For the next chapter, click HERE.