ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The possibilities for torture during that terrifying night were endless. The young St. Petersburg woman’s mind was racing.
Her heart pounded. She felt the grip of anxiety strangling her pulse. It was sheer terror.
She had no idea what would happen next. What plans, if any, did the creeper have for her after she caught him in her home?
But somehow the yoga enthusiast, who practices meditation, remained calm.
She came face-to-face with pure evil and managed to make it out alive without so much as a scratch.
But when it came to her survival, she had to go through hell to get there. He made sure of it.
Turns out, the burglar had planned the entire encounter – literally from start to finish. On June 21, the mystery man broke into her home through a back window. He began rummaging through her things, sneaking through her stuff, sizing up everything she had in the house. He wasn’t even wearing a mask. His face could be seen as plain as day. He thought he was getting away with the perfect crime.
He was wrong.
The entire time he was slinking around her home on Paris Avenue South in St. Petersburg, he was seen on a surveillance camera. Every move he made was recorded.
In fact, the quality of the in-home video system that the young woman had was so good, you could see the expression on the guy’s face. He was calm, cool and collected as he worked his way around the room. He set the scene and created an atmosphere ready to return, propping open her bedroom window so that he could come back.
And he did.
That’s what’s so scary about the entire crime. The young woman who lived in the home had no way of knowing that the bold burglar had not only been in her house, he had perverted plans.
But he didn’t rush.
He was oddly patient. He waited and waited and waited. Hours later, when the young woman was already in bed, dozing while listening to a podcast on her iPhone, he jumped over the fence. The noise startled her, so she got up out of bed and walked sleepily to the front door. After checking out the noise and dismissing it, she returned, fully naked, to her bedroom.
That’s when the true terror began.
The burglar was waiting for her, and unbeknownst to him, her surveillance system cameras were rolling.
In the audio, you can hear her desperate screams and cries for help.
She was begging him not to hurt her. And, the sounds were chilling. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen next,” she told WFLA while reflecting on that fateful night.
In the video, she can be seen on-camera, following the deranged directions of the man who broke into her home. He forced her to her purse, demanding her keys, her wallet and her cell phone. He then instructed her to walk back to her bedroom.
“His face changed, his demeanor changed. I could see the shift in his eyes. I kept eyeing the window, knowing that I would have to make a move. It was a fight or flight situation. I decided to go for it,” she bravely explained.
Indeed, this sick suspect had planned out a sinister scenario. He ordered her to get onto her bed, giving her vulgar instructions the entire time. At that moment, she was in fear for her life, horrified by his behavior and terrified that he would either rape her or kill her.
“That’s when I ran to the window, forced it open and began screaming, help me! Help me,” she said. “I screamed so loud, I know the neighbors heard. It was surreal.”
Her screaming secured her survival.
As she looks back on her actions that night, she says she feels empowered and she fought through the fear, knowing her voice would be the only thing to keep her alive.
And, it worked.
The neighbors heard her, and they called 911 immediately as she yelled through her window.
Her blood-curdling screams were also recorded on surveillance, along with the shady character who had been torturing her.
The last images captured of him were his quick escape, as he darted out the door while her terror-filled voice echoed through the house.
The story has garnered national attention, shared on Facebook thousands of times, reaching hundreds of thousands of people all over the country. The young woman says that while she is a bit embarrassed about all the attention, she is ultimately grateful that people are hearing her story and as they listen, she also hopes they are looking at the man’s face in the footage.
“I want him off the streets. I haven’t slept in that house since. It was scary and I would never want to go through it again but in a way, it was empowering that I thought back. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she admitted.
Lt. Markus Hughes has been with the St. Petersburg Police Department for nearly two decades. He agrees that the video is chilling, but also knows that it was so powerful for the public to see, so compelling that this surveillance video will, most likely, help solve this case.
“We’ve got to get this guy off the streets. That’s the best way we can help her. Somebody knows who he is,” Lt. Hughes told WFLA Wednesday afternoon.
A cash reward is also now available.
Currently, the reward stands at $3,000 for anyone who can lead detectives to the man caught on camera. Investigators have been trying to figure out who he is, and more importantly where he is, for a solid week. They’re hoping that now, this cash reward will be the motivating factor for someone, somewhere out there to do the right thing and turn the guy in quickly.
Lt. Hughes says it would ultimately bring the young woman in this case something she is desperately hoping for in the aftermath of this nightmare – peace.
“I’m lucky,” she said. “I know that. I’m grateful.”
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