A Noise at the Gate, My Gut, and 911

Tonight, I listened to that tiny voice in the back of my head that said, “There was a noise at the gate. There is no wind tonight.”

And again when it said, “There was a noise on the sidewalk by the gate.”

Again, “There is a noise at the gate.”

And finally, when the voice said to me, “That is the noise of a man’s shoe.”

Let me back up a minute. Last weekend we were out in the yard as a family working in the garden, my daughter and I by our back gate tying the climbing roses to the trellis, teaching them to grow over. She was chattering away and handing me the string while I was on the step ladder trying to avoid thorns. And a guy I’d never seen walked by. We live in a town of about 60,000 people, but you get to know the folks and faces of your neighborhood. I know all of my neighbors. And it is Wisconsin, so everyone smiles (with teeth showing) and greets each other with a “How are ya?”.

The guy I’d never seen before was dressed oddly for the weather. I noticed it, but that little voice in my head told me to pay attention to it. He looked at me, but didn’t smile. His face had an odd expression on it.  He was walking oddly, like he was paying a lot of attention to our yard with it trying to look like he wasn’t. That little voice in my head told me to pay attention to that, too. We have two large dogs who are not friendly to strangers, so I figured he’d head down the sidewalk and my dogs would bark at him as he walked the length of the fence. But then he doubled back and I watched him walk to the corner and look around. We have a bunch of young guys that just moved in next door. They were having a party and I figured this schmuck was just trying to figure out where their house was. Everything about him was odd. Off. A few minutes later he had returned to the side of my house and I could feel him looking at me. More importantly, I could feel him looking at my daughter. My hackles went up. I put on my bitchiest voice, looked him square in the eye, and addressed him.

“You looking for someone?” -Me

“Uh, no. I’m not lost. My car ran out of gas, so I thought I’d walk to the store before it rains.” -Him

“Doesn’t look like rain. Store is that way.” -Me, pointing in the direction he’d come, to the main thoroughfare we live off.

He was acting weird, just….off. My dogs were snarling at the gate, and for the first time all day Amelia had stopped talking. I held my ground and continued staring him in the eye, but by now my stomach had ice in it. That little voice in my head? Was screaming at me “Remember him!”. I memorized his face. I used to be an investigator, I was good at this stuff back in the day.

“You’ll want to walk that way for the store. And you’ll want to walk that way now.” -Me. I felt like a bad ass. Like some cheesy Clint Eastwood line.

My husband had heard the tone in my voice, and he came to the gate. He’s Texan. He doesn’t take kindly to people on his property. “Fella, you need something?” -Husband

And the guy left. Amelia said something about him being weird, and I just gave my husband a look. A bit later when the kids were occupied I told my husband how creepy the guy was, and that my head was telling me there was something not right.

Fast forward to tonight — My husband and I were up late talking about family stuff and folding laundry. It was a cool summer evening and the midnight breeze was welcome through all of the open windows in our home. He went up to bed, and I went into the the bathroom. I thought I heard a noise at the gate, but I dismissed it. I was looking at my eyebrow in the mirror when I heard the same noise again. There was that little voice again, saying “Oh Darling, why don’t we pay attention to that. There’s no wind tonight and the gate is moving.” So I was listening, but I wanted to brush my teeth. Another noise, another whisper from my little voice. I was about to sit down to pee, when I heard a shoe scuff on the sidewalk and my little voice was no longer quiet. It screamed at me, “Go to the window! Now!”.

I pulled back the curtain, and there was that same man, standing with his hand on my back gate. He was already looking directly at me when my eyes focused on him. He was already looking at me. Wait, had he been watching me? I was terrified. Not just scared. I was terrified. His hand was on the gate. He had been trying to open it. The gate is hard to open. He was ten, maybe twelve feet from my baby son’s bedroom window. Had my husband left the window open? He had left the window open the night before and I yelled at him, telling him never to leave first floor windows open.

He was already looking at me. I was instantly terrified. I was barely breathing. He was ten feet from my son’s window. I took a deep breath, and said as loudly as I could,

“You need something, A**hole?” -Me. Apparently I’m foul mouthed when I’m terrified.

“Actually, no.” -Him

“Then f*cking scram” -Me. Taking a photograph of his face with my mind. He backed up a few steps, but this I will remember always – he had no emotion on his face. He wasn’t surprised, angry, startled, scared, embarrassed. Nothing. This was the same man from last weekend. He had been standing there, watching me.

Oh. God. The back door was still open. Unlocked. Where were the dogs? They were rushing into the kitchen. I heard my husband get out of bed upstairs. I ran for the phone. 911. I ran to the kitchen, knowing the knife block would be there as soon as I walked in. Closer to me than him, should he be coming through the door or window. I’d put up a fight. My children were sleeping in their beds. I’d take his face off with my teeth. I was scared, but quickly transitioning into full Mama Bear mode.

The 911 operator asked for my address, asked if I could still see the man. Holy Jeezus I was terrified.  The dogs were at my side, agitated, but not going crazy. The big one had his hackles up. I slammed shut the window, slipped the lock on the door. I could hear my husband’s feet on the stairs. My brain took over, calmly telling the operator the man’s description. It was the same man as the other weekend.

The police arrived within two mintues. The operator asked if I felt safe. Yes, my husband was here, I was okay. The operator said an officer would come talk to us after they searched the neighborhood. I told my husband it was the same man, and I saw anger flash in his eyes. He grabbed a Mag Light and headed outside with one of the dogs. The officer came to our front door after a while. He listened carefully and wrote down everything I said.

I stood in the middle of my home, our big dog at my feet, with my hand on my belly. Adrenaline was swirling in my head, but with my eyes closed, I said a little prayer of thanks. Thankful that I had listened to my gut. Thankful that the shoe scuff that had made me go to the window had stayed on the outside of my gate. Thankful my children were still safely asleep in their beds.

We’ve heard it before, about that little voice that at first whispers to you, then gets louder and louder until finally a piano needs to be dropped on your head. Oprah Winfrey talked about this a lot. I think it is valuable advice for parents, especially women. We are intuitive creatures. As mothers, even more so. But many times we discredit ourselves, and we so often want to please others. Many women don’t like to appear brash or rude. We don’t want to seem like a bitch. We want to be liked, we don’t want to rock the boat.

Whether it is a little whisper about your child’s playmate, a story from school, a parent or coach you are uneasy about, a route you are walking and you suddenly feel unsafe….don’t dismiss what that little voice is saying to you. That little voice is meant to protect you.

Do not be fearful, but always be listening.


Update: I wanted to thank you all for your concern for myself and my family. We are well and we are safe. I also wanted to post an update that this past Sunday, I again called the police because I saw this man in a yard two doors down from my home. It was his residence, and I rather enjoyed watching him get frisked in his front yard and driven away in a squad car. That matter has been taken care of, and I am certain we will not have any future problems with this individual.

And again, I ask that you ALWAYS listen to that voice that is quietly speaking to you that something isn’t right, something doesn’t add up. Always be listening.


Updated Update: 10/18/11 I was wrong. Super wrong. We are still having problems with this individual. We remain vigilant and in contact with the police.

Listen to your gut. Trust your intuition. Keep your family safe.


Update to the Updated Update: 7/14/12 My family has continued to have to call the police on this neighbor, and other neighbors continue to watch out for our family. We had a new neighbor move in across the street two weeks ago, directly corresponding with our Creeper’s behavior escalating. Last night my six year old daughter listened to her intuition and didn’t ignore the feeling that she was being watched. She looked out the door to see the man standing on the sidewalk, staring in at us. She alerted me immediately. He walked past our house, very very slowly four more times, at which point I went outside and had a few words with him. He left, but a few minutes later I saw him casing our house by car. I called the police, who arrived within minutes. Luckily it was an officer we have worked with before on this issue. Amelia did an awesome job of giving her report to the officer, and I had both kids practice telling the officer their names, birthdays, and phone number. I am very grateful to the Janesville Police Department for their concern and professionalism while handing this case. I also love that the officer acknowledged that she thought my Mama Bear instincts were right on this one, and told my kids so. She then went over with my kids what to do should this man ever approach or try to touch them or talk to them. Amelia told the officer she always listens to her “tummy voice”, and the officer said she is a very smart girl.

While the officer went to talk to the Creeper, our new neighbor came over to check on us. He was concerned when he saw the squad car outside and knew it had to do with the living next to him. He said he sees this guy staring at and walking past our house all of the time. We chatted, introduced him to the kids, exchanged numbers, and he promised to keep on the lookout. My husband wasn’t home, so he waited with me until the officer came back, and then gave her his statement of what he has seen the Creeper doing.

The good news is the officer came back, and long story short, at this stage the case has gotten to the point that our next interaction with this guy will be cause to have him arrested for stalking. It is great news for a sucky situation.

The moral of my story is LISTEN to your gut. LISTEN to the voice in your head trying to protect you. Be loud when you have to. Get to know your neighbors so that they aren’t strangers and can help you when you need it. And teach your kids to do the same.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night unable to sleep, so I walked around the house checking locks and windows. Then I pulled “The Gift of Fear” and “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin de Becker and started reading them again. Please, please read those books.


Dear Lord Let This Be the Last Update 8/23/12: Last week we had a hearing for a Restraining Order against our neighbor. The judged and attorneys involved were awesome, and our family is now protected (as much as a Restraining Order can). The neighbor has some mental health issues, and it seems this has finally woken up his family that perhaps he should not be living on his own. The better news is that we saw the neighbor’s family moving his possessions out of the house, and it seems he will be leaving the neighborhood. I am finally able to sleep again for the first time in a long time. Let’s hope this is the end of this story!


  1. My heart dropped into my stomach reading your post. I am so, so glad that you listened to your instinct and checked out the noises both times. While I certainly do not advocate living in fear, trusting your gut can help you avoid doing so…knowing when something is a threat or not. There is a difference between fear and instinct for sure, and it’s clear that you acted on instinct, and hopefully whoever this was got the message and will stay far, far away from your family. Sending you love, strength and serenity, mama! xo

  2. Stephanie says:

    Glad you are all safe and that you listened to that small inner voice! I definitely recommend “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin de Becker. (link to his site: https://www.gavindebecker.com/resources/book/protecting_the_gift/)

    I think everyone should read this book, but especially parents!

    • I said this same thing on FB!! I’d also like to point out that even though this instance was a confrontation with a stranger, most of the time, the people that will hurt and prey on your children are people you know and trust. What I love about Gavin’s book is that he doesn’t just fill you full of fear about “what if” and “this could” he gives you tools and shows you what to look for. Predators have a pattern. It’s readable. It’s there every time.

    • Thanks Stephanie. That is a great book that all parents should read for sure.

    • Stephanie and Rachel —

      Thank you so much for recommending and endorsing this book. The same day I read this post I was having a conversation with a mom friend wherein she expressed her desire to send her daughter to Catholic school, but her wariness given all the history. She is generally concerned about her daughter’s quiet, more passive nature. After reading this post and your comments about the book, I got a copy for myself. It’s fantastic. I’m about 90 pages in. It doesn’t exactly say anything mind blowing, but it confirms a LOT of things that make tremendous sense, once you think about them. We have a Prius and after all the media a few years ago about sudden acceleration, I took the time to rehearse putting the car in neutral while on the freeway. Now I’m more confident that if there was an emergency, I’d know what to do. “Protecting the Gift” seems similar – creating intention behind things that are innate and consciously practicing them so they are rote. I’m definitely going to teach my children to speak to strangers from now on. Thanks again!

  3. Thank God you are all okay!! How very scary!

    Your blog is full of wise advice! God gave us intuition for a reason! I’m so glad you paid attention!

  4. My experience was not nearly as frightening as yours ( http://totallytawn.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/not-so-happy-meal/ ) but you handled it so much better than I did. My intuition was screaming at me to make this guy go away, but I think you’re exactly right when you point out that women are generally taught from a young age not to be rude and to be a “good girl” by being passive and waiting to be rescued. I’m so thankful that you and your family are safe and that your actions can provide the blueprint that I so desperately need to help me in the future. Thank you.

  5. How frightening – I’m glad you’re all ok, and that you listened to that little voice.

  6. That is absolutely terrifying.

    That parent radar is generally going off for a reason, but sometimes we don’t realize it at the moment.

    • Melissa, I’d go grab a thing or two of pepper spray, and keep it nearby, if you’re not gun people. You’ll be defending your kids and yourself in an invasion situation. Being able to at least incapacitate is huge.

      I’d be extremely concerned that the guy didn’t really startle when you talked to him. I probably read that in a psych book in college some time, but it seems to me that means he’s “made an attachment”.

      Dogs are decent deterrents, but if someone wants in, and they’ve seen the dogs, that means they may have come up with a way around them.

      • I’ve also heard of people keeping wasp spray near the door- can do damage to eyes and has a good range.

        • The hunting stores here sell bear spray. If it can bring down a bear, it can bring down a man, right? I’m going to be calling a policewoman I know tonight to ask what our best options and protections are.

      • Peter –
        That is what was the scariest part, when he showed no reaction when I caught him. I will be consulting with a policewoman I know to find out our best options for safety, pepper spray being one of them. You are right, dogs are a great alarm system, but we need Plan B and Plan C.

        • Another thought is to go to a self defense course. Most adults haven’t been in a fight since they were kids. I took tae kwon do with my son for a few years, and it was actually a lot of fun. I would recommend you take one that spars. It’s important to know what to do when someone wants to get up close and personal. We all watch too many movies and think we know what to do and would react well. It’s better to know.

          The knife would poke holes in someone, but really would be just something to wrestle over. You don’t want that. He probably has you by 50-100 pounds. You want to keep them at a distance. I liked the wasp spray idea, a lot, because of the distance thing. Only problem is you’ve got to be reasonably accurate.

          Lastly, KEEP A CHARGED PHONE ON YOU!!!! You don’t want the confrontation, you want help.

          • I’ve taken two self defense courses. One right before college and one about five years ago. I think all women (and men!) should take one.

            I like things that give me distance. And you are right, this guy is much bigger than me, and a knife fighter I am not. But Sunday night my options were that or beat him with the toaster oven.

            Also, how come you are not my neighbor? 🙂

  7. This is absolutely terrifying…how lucky that you were still downstairs when he started messing with your gate, and how excellent that you were brave enough to call him out (and call the police!)

    I know that I’ve definitely put up with treatment I’ve found creepy or uncomfortable before simply because I didn’t want to rock the boat, and that’s always a shame. Now that I have a daughter I’m much more likely to speak up.

    Have the police found him? Is there any chance he will be back? I certainly hope the answer to the former is yes, and the answer to the latter is no. Thinking of you.

    • Hi Cate –
      To my knowledge the police have not found him yet, but I will be following up. The kids and I handed out flyers and talked to every one of our neighbors in a three block radius. The entire neighborhood is on high alert. If he does come back, he won’t have an easy time creeping around.

      I am operating under the assumption he will be back. If he does come back, he won’t like what he finds. No one tries to harm my family. No one.

  8. I was raised by really intuitive women and one of the number one lessons they taught me was to always listen to your gut. Always.

    David told me that Baby Girl made a rude comment to a man at the dance recital when they were waiting backstage before their performance. I asked him what she said and he told me that she looked at this man and said, “that man’s scary.” And she said it more than once. She swore she had told him (David) quietly and he wasn’t listening to her (which I totally believe). I told him from now on not to get on to her for that because her gut was telling her that something was wrong with that man and it is very important for women and children to always follow that instinct that tells them something is wrong.

  9. My gut has told me to learn to shoot and have a gun I know how to use and feel comfortable with. No one will ever get past me – to my children. Ever.

    I’m proud of you, my friend. I’ve heard that bad ass voice too – and it IS just a little bit scary.

  10. Anne-Marie says:

    A man followed me home once, under the pretext of chatting me up. I said “Good-bye!” firmly and waited for him to leave before running into my apartment building so that he wouldn’t know which building I lived in, but I too called the police and made the rounds of all my neighbors.

    The statistics on gun owners losing control of their weapons terrify me, and in keeping with my belief that all handguns should be illegal, I will never have one in my home. But I do believe in paying attention to my surroundings, really good deadbolt locks and calling the police even if it’s something “silly.”

    • We don’t have a gun in our home and we won’t be getting one. I remember being hyper-aware of this in college, but once I was grown up and married, I just didn’t really think about it so much. Hopefully this is the only message the Universe will need to send me.

    • Anne-Marie, it’s certainly your choice to not keep a gun in your home… but making them illegal will only change the ratio unfavorably. A criminal doesn’t care about the law and will have a gun even if they are illegal, but the law abiding citizen (who has a better chance of using the gun reasonably) will not have one. The caveat to that IMO is that if you have a gun, you need to be able to use it properly *and be willing to use it.* Because you’re right, people hesitate and the criminal uses that leverage to get the gun away from them. Then the intruder has even more power and at that point there’s often little you can do.
      BTW, while I firmly believe in the right to bear arms, I do not have a gun for two reasons: 1) I don’t know how to use one, and 2) I think I would hesitate.

  11. How scary Melissa!

    I believe in listening to your gut and I’m so glad you did.

    I do not, however, condone the idea of keeping a gun in the house for protection. I think that the possibilities of someone getting hurt by that gun are SO MUCH GREATER than the possibility of someone being hurt by an intruder. There will never be a gun in my house.

  12. If ten years in the military taught me anything, it’s that bad people do bad things to good people. I’m glad you and your family are safe now. Hopefully, he won’t return.

    I’m not trying to stir up a debate, and this probably won’t change your opinion on the subject, but here are the real facts of gun ownership. A properly kept gun in the home, when handled responsibly, is about as dangerous as an electrical outlet. Keep the kids away and treat it with caution and respect. I think you and your husband should take a gun safety course even if you don’t plan on purchasing one. You never know when you might cross paths with one and knowing the basics wouldn’t hurt.

    Some interesting material.



    Stay safe and remain vigilant.

    • Adam –
      I really appreciate your thoughtful comment and balanced info about responsible gun ownership. Thank you. (And thank you for serving for our country!)

  13. Thank-you so much for sharing this story, I’m going to make sure as many people read it as possible. For the people suggesting guns/pepper spray etc, while that might be useful and could be something Melissa looks into, you’re also missing the point slightly. Even with an armoury, had she ignored that little voice, decided not to make a fuss, doubted herself or second guessed her gut, the guns would have been useless. The issue is intuition, not home protection.

  14. This reminds me so much of an incident we experienced while in the Wisconsin Dells. We had pulled our rented motorhome into a parking lot when I noticed a man sitting in his car next to us, looking up as if trying to see in the windows. My radar went off like crazy, but I didn’t say anything because I thought I was “over-reacting.” We (four parents and four girls under the age of 10) walked around the Dells looking for a place to eat, and when we finally sat down, who came in and sat at the table next to us? Yes. I mentioned it then to the other mom who said she had felt the exact same alarm when she initially saw him, but again, hadn’t said anything. We made it back to the motorhome a few hours later, and there he was again. The back seat of his car was covered in open sleeping bags. The dads with us, however, hadn’t noticed a thing, and when we told them that he must have been following us the entire day, one went out to ask him what he wanted and then quite impolitely told him to leave. What scared me so much was that we did not have a tight reign on the girls that day — the younger ones were trailing behind us as we walked, because we thought we were in the safest place on earth. I never again will ignore that feeling I had that day when I first saw that man.

    Glad that you are okay and hope they catch him.

    • Whew. I just had to take a deep breath. I’m so glad you all were okay. I very seriously think moms develop an extra sense when their children are born.

      I’m fine with overreacting. You can always apologize. But there are some things that once done, you can never undo. I’m really grateful that all of you, most especially the girls, stayed safe that day.

  15. honestly the best thing i have read in a long time…i dont read much because i cant find anything that interests me…you should write books!!! i want to read more of your stories!!

    • How is this the best thing you read in a long time?? Do you enjoy hearing that a family is being stalked?? Strikes me as very odd that you would enjoy reading this because frankly it scares the shit out of me! This isn’t a story like you would read in a mystery/suspense novel, this is very very real and happening to many real people, families, and even small children! Your comment creeps me out.

  16. I’m so glad you trusted your instincts. I’ll never apologize for acting in a way that protects my kids. Kudos to you for putting the neighbors on alert, too!

  17. That last paragraph was really thought provoking for me.

    The past few months, I have been weary of a neighbor who has left a couple of weeks ago on the account that I made her life miserable. My husband and I never did anything to undermine her, but she is clearly sick and not all there. I won’t go into details other than she recently sent me an e-mail that was rather scary once she had moved away.

    Since my daughter’s birth, 11 months ago, I have been very weary of having her around my baby girl. She was part of our family at the time but is not any longer. I have said repeatedly that she didn’t feel right around my daughter, especially after she blew a fit of jealousy when she found out I was pregnant.

    After the e-mail, my husband agreed that we had to keep her away from our daughter and our family as a whole.

    Now I understand what that feeling was and you really cleared it up for me. I feel better knowing I am NOT overreacting and will be keeping close watch.

    • Alice –
      Please listen to that voice inside of you. My five year old would tell you it is your “belly voice”. Your belly is your core, the center of your being. When that speaks to you, listen. And keep that sweet child safe.

  18. Thank you for sharing this post. My husband and I made some decisions a few weeks ago that alienated some of our neighbors, because we have been very uncomfortable about their (older) child being around our daughter. I finally started listening to that voice inside my head, and your post is reinforcing EXACTLY why it was the right thing to do.

    • It was exactly the right thing to do. Brava for having the strength to do it, and the wisdom to listen to that voice. I hope you guys have a fun and safe summer!

  19. Hoshiko says:

    God, how awful. You have my utmost sympaphies. I hope they catch him and lock him up. People like that should be locked up for life.

  20. I came across your post through Stumbleupon! I was riveted from the first line. Did I read this right? Does this guy live in your neighborhood? I am glad you’re taking precautions and hope all is well. Thanks for reminding us mommies that we do need to be vigilant and listen to our instincts.

    • Hi Jo-Lynne –
      He is a neighbor of mine, and he was picked up by police and questioned. Due to the nature of the crime and that I interrupted his tresspassing on our property, the most the police could have done was issue a city ticket for prowling. We do not like nor trust the man, but we have taken appropriate measures to ensure our family is safe, and the police have strongly suggested to the man that he give our family and our property a very wide berth.

      Listen to your instincts!

  21. Wow… my heart was just racing reading that. I’m glad to hear you are all safe, and the matter was taken care of.

  22. Wow, that post had my attention from the first sentence. Just wondering what has been happening? Do you happen to know if he is a sexual predator? I used to be insanely over protective of my girls… they are 12 and 14 now, and I have relaxed a little bit, but I still listen to that gut feeling! Hope all is well.

  23. I’m glad you and your family are safe! The messages of trusting you instincts and not being passive/ playing nice are excellent reminders for all of us. For anyone who may not feel safe with a gun in the house or spraying chemicals inside, may I suggest buying a nice, solid baseball bat? Visit your friendly neighborhood sporting goods store and get one that fits your hands and you are comfortable swinging. I keep mine easily available between my headboard & nightstand and always have it with me when checking out the things that go bump in the night. I’ve used this as a precaution both as a young single woman and now as Momma Bear.

  24. I learned this lesson a while ago. My husband and I went to a mall one night, about an hour before closing time. He was on the road at the time and wanted to spend some time with me. We left the music store after the rest of the mall closed, so there was not a lot of people. I had my purse casually slung in one had. I was the one who heard the sound of running feet and heard that voice say “grabyourpursegrabyourpursegrabyourpurse GRAB YOU FLIPPIN PURSE!” As soon as I got a better grip on the thing, a guy ran up, grabbed it and me and dragged us down the parking lot. My husband reacted within seconds, but the guy was fast. He didn’t get the purse or me, but I was about 6 weeks pregnant at the time…I did loose the baby, but I’m not sure if it was from that night or other factors.

    I did talk to the mall police and the regular police. It was a bust, unfortunately. I was told since the mall doesn’t have video cameras in the parking lot, they didn’t see the guy grab my purse or get into the car with his friends so they couldn’t do anything. But my lesson in listening to myself was well learned.

    I am glad that you and yours were safe, tho.

  25. Wow! What a harrowing experience for you all. I am so glad that you are all ok. It just turns my stomach to wonder what his intentions were.
    I, too, have 2 large dogs. And, although I expect that they would attempt to protect me, I also could see that they would be easily pacified by the right tone of voice or treat.
    When it comes to any form of chemical defense or weapon, my concern is that it will not be where I am when I need it, and what if my dogs or kids somehow become exposed. That has always prevented me from pursuing anything more than a baseball bat tucked next to my nightstand.
    Thank you for compelling us all to think more about how we respond to our own thoughts and intuition. And, for encouraging us all to nurture those responses our children have, instead of trying to correct a seemingly “impolite” or “unsocial” behavior. I’d say it’s better to be a righteous bitch, then having to deal with the aftermath of a tragedy.

  26. Since you say that this man turned out to be a neighbor of yours, hasn’t it occurred to you that the incident where he tried to open your gate could’ve just been him coming home at night and going up to the wrong home, mistaking it for his own? Having the police go pick him up while he was in his own yard later seems like a civil rights violation. I doubt he had posed any potential harm to your family in the beginning, but if I were him I’d come kill you all now just for hassling me like that. You’re not the lords of the world, and so you can’t dictate that a man shouldn’t get to be in his own yard, or walking back and forth in front of your house while he’s on a public street, just because it makes you uncomfortable.

    • Lycere –
      There is no way he was mistakenly in our yard. Since I wrote this post over a year ago, the man continues to stalk my family and has had numerous point of contact with the police. Thanks for your advice, but I’ve got this covered.

    • Sabrina says:

      Lycere, do you really think the police would continue their involvement if they thought Melissa’s family was unjustly harassing this guy? What a thoughtless comment to make. Creepers can be anywhere, even right across the street. Just because he happens to be a neighbor doesn’t mean he is harmless.

    • “I’d come kill you all now” !!!??!????! Yea, that doesn’t sound creepy at all. Anyone who nonchalantly says “kill you all now” seems to be on the wrong side of the issue. Hmmmmm

    • Sue Carney says:

      Your reply proves Melissa’s point perfectly, thanks.
      You are saying that if she feels someone is harassing her family, and takes steps to protect them, she is overreacting and should just get over it. But if you feel that someone is harassing you, you will kill them.
      Women are done being bullied into keeping quiet for fear of not looking “nice.”

    • Wow, Lycere. I can’t believe that after reading this, you think she overreacted. Walking back and forth in front of someone’s house like that is frequently a precursor to illegal behavior – it’s known as “casing” the house and where I live it is illegal to pass the same place more than three times in a given period of time.
      Also, the police know the law, yes? So picking him up at his home, *even if it was a civil rights violation* (which I highly doubt) would have been a violation on the part of the police, not the writer. And they’re trained to uphold the law, so I tend to feel that they know what they’re doing.
      I agree with Sue; your attitude about this kind of situation is like an invitation to a predator…and I sincerely hope that if you have children, you are not teaching this attitude to them. But I also sincerely hope you never have to find out you’re wrong, because from your statements above it sounds like it would take becoming a victim to change your mind, and no one deserves that.

    • terrytucker says:

      Lycere wrote: “I doubt he had posed any potential harm to your family in the beginning, but if I were him I’d come kill you all now just for hassling me like that.”
      What a horrible, horrible comment. Who chooses to kill someone because they were hassled? Someone with the depth and capacity to harm other people for their own pleasure. If it had been a mistake, he would have apologized and never done it again, but that’s not what happened…
      This is such a great reminder to not discount our intuition! Thank you!

    • Natalie Bojesen says:

      So she should just keep quiet and wait til he harms one of her children? That’s not how it goes, dude. If he was “mistakenly” in her yard he would have come over, introduced himself, apologized, and perhaps started a neighborly relationship with her and her family. he did no such thing. He continues to act suspicious and her job is to protect her family and clearly she takes that job pretty damn seriously.

      Melissa-I know you’ve got this covered, had to say something. Good job to the OPP and kudos to you for raising her right. Gonna go get those books at the library, thanks for posting.

  27. Lindsey Pfeifer says:

    Growing up, most girls are taught to “not make waves” and to be polite and reserved. I have a 6 month old daughter and it’s been difficult for me to find my inner MamaBear. Thank you for writing this, shows that I need to keep listening to my gut and not worry about offending people if it means protecting my daughter.

  28. So, i was reading the update on this, and I wanted to share a story. A while back, I worked at a kids play zone place, Discovery Zone. One day, a mom took her toddler to the bathroom, and came out screaming and wheezing, saying that something had shot up from the toilet and sprayed them. When you walked in to the bathroom, it was hard to breathe and had a smell to it. We, of course, called an ambulance and management, but i asked her if she had anything that could have sprayed anything. It turned out that she had pepper spray on her keychain and had tucked her keys into her armpit as she helped her child go potty, and had accidentally sprayed it. She had never used it before, so she didn’t realize what it was.
    We also had an incident where a cop lost and left his gun in a ball pit, so, I early on learned that, perhaps, weapons were better not to be kept as everyday objects unless there were no better options.

    • Cred –
      That is insane — how does a cop lose and leave his firearm?!? At any rate, we have taken precautions to protect our home and family.

  29. You have probably checked into this already, but is he a renter? If so, I would talk to the land lord.

    • Hi Nicole,
      I used to be a PI, so I’ve looked into everything about this guy. We do have knowledge of his housing situation and are working with the police on that. I appreciate your concern 🙂

  30. Guy definitely sounds stalker. Right from the movie Lovely Bones even. Hope you all stay safe.

  31. TeacupTiger says:

    Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. you need to move.

  32. Good for you! My nine-year-old daughter and I fall victim to the “being nice” syndrome all the time. I’ve been ultra-aware of that since I realized that she gets it from me. I’ve been consciously speaking up for myself in her presence since she started school and I saw that she’ll let anyone cut her in line, take her toys, etc. without saying anything. My biggest fear is that someone will try to abduct her and she won’t fight because she doesn’t want to be rude. We have to find a balance between teaching our children to be polite and teaching them to speak up for themselves and listen to their gut instincts. You’re modeling good self-care for your children, and I applaud you for that.
    That being said, I hate to counsel anyone to run from their problems, but have you considered moving? It’s been over a year with this man harassing you and you feeling unsafe in your own home, and you’ve only now reached the point where this man can be arrested?! The law does far more to protect the law-breakers than it does to protect the innocent — I know this from trying to get my ex-husband to pay child support for the last five years. He has the money but won’t pay, and he still gets full visitation, because we wouldn’t want to step on his rights as a father. If I were you I would move to a safer area right away, even if I lost money on the house. I know that seems like a cop-out, but you need to protect your children. How much will you regret it if something happens to your daughter when you’re not there (it only takes a minute — you could be in the bathroom)?

    • Hi Julie –
      No, we will not move. We’ve never felt in imminent danger, and we’ve been steadily building a case to have him arrested for stalking and get a restraining order. The police have also been working with his family, who own the house he lives in and who are also concerned. We are not the ones who need to move, he does.

      We could move, but then we’d be in an unfamiliar neighborhood with neighbors that do not know us, and whom we do not know. I’d rather stay where I am with good neighbors around me, looking out for my kids, and knowing right where the enemy is. Remember, it isn’t the snake you see that is dangerous, it is the ones you don’t see.

  33. Melissa, thank you so much for not only posting this in the first place, but reiterating how important it is, and giving us a follow-up.
    I was always a shy, very compassionate person growing up, giving up my own feelings to spare the feelings of others. Something happened to me when I first became a mother over 28 years ago. My own mother calls it the “mama tiger” syndrome, and I’ve surprised myself with my reactions to protecting my kids several times.
    When my daughter was 11, I left her in the locked car to read one February evening to buy a cell phone for my husband, who worked nights (this is when cell phones were first becoming popular). It was a very small plaza, and I could see my car from the store – only about a hundred feet away. The programming of the phone took longer than I thought, and I must have been distracted for a few minutes, as when I returned to the car, my daughter told me that a man in a black bra (!?!) had opened his coat to show her himself. She thought it was weird; I thought it was terrifying! I immediately went to my mother’s house (2 blocks away) and called the police on this flasher. I was at first hesitant, thinking with my previously passive “no harm was really done” response, but something told me that was not the right reaction.
    Long story short, he was well-known to law enforcement as a flasher on local college campuses, but my daughter was by far the youngest victim. He was eventually jailed, but when he was released a year later, he “escalated” and tried to abduct a college student out jogging!
    One other point I would like to make is about your dogs. ALWAYS listen to them – my sister’s dog was acting much more aggressively protective of her when a man she knew only slightly came to her door once. Turns out later that the man was a pedophile who murdered one of his victims. I am a dyed-in-the-wool animal lover, and I am convinced that animals, particularly our loved pets, can sense potential harm even when we can’t. I judge people I am getting to know by their attitude towards animals; it has never let me down.
    Thank you for your wise and sensible words.

    • Hi Karen –
      I’m so glad your daughter was okay in that situation. And yes, my dogs are very protective of our family. I used to do SAR Canine with one of my old dogs, and am well aware of how reliable they are, and what a good judge of character. I’ll never buy a gun, but I’ll always own a big dog.

      • Melissa,

        I am very glad you listen to your voice! I have written a number of articles and blog posts about this same topic and it is something many people are scared to do.

        I am a federal agent, and have been for 12 years, as well as a father of four. I encourage people to listen to their “tummy voice” and to act as rudely as they must when in this type of situation. I STRONGLY recommend reading Gavin De Becker’s book Protecting the Gift too.

        As far a guns are concerned, I would only recommend that you keep the option open (as your comfort level would allow). There are many courses you can take to learn how to use one safely. With little ones in the house though, I can understand any discomfort.

        I don’t think that guns are the answer to the problem though. Your vigilance is. Y’all are in tune with your parental nature and that is the best thing for this!

        I sure hope and pray that you are safe from harm! Keep up the good work.

  34. Jessica says:

    Melissa, I know you have a lot of advice swirling and I don’t want to overwhelm you but I suggest you teach the OPP some hold releases. You said you’ve taken self defense, teach her some releases too, just in case. I will be praying for you. It makes me sick reading what is going on as you are someone whom I have grown to respect and admire. Hugs.

  35. Charlotte says:

    Thank you so much for the newest update! I have been checking back. I’m glad it sounds like he is moving away. Thank you for sharing your story.

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