Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Diaper Bandit

It was a young spring afternoon when I came home from work sick with the flu. I think that every bone in my body ached and I was running a very high fever. I had called my cousin, who was a nurse, to bring me some medicine. I was too sick to go to the doctor. I did not want to have to get back up, so I unlocked the burglar bar door that were on the outside of the door so that she could just come on inside once she got here.

I laid down and must have dozed off to sleep because I was awakened by a knock on the door. "Oh well," I thought. "She'll realize the door is open and come on in." I never got up. I laid there with my eyes closed. I heard the door open and felt the presence of someone in my room. I looked up and there stood a young black man looking at me. I noticed that he was very jittery. I stood up to walk toward him. My knees were shaking from the weakness that I felt from the flu and for some reason, I froze in place.

My first thought was, "Well LinMarie here you go. If God doesn't have your heart by now, this ole' boy is fixing to take it." I asked God to give me peace and strength to do what I needed to do. Still frozen in my tracks, I immediately felt coolness come over me that began at the top of my head. It went down my neck into my torso and arms and into my legs. It felt as if someone had poured cold water all over me. My movement came back and I came to my senses.

"What are you doing in here?" I asked in a surprisingly calm manner. The unwanted visitor threw his arms wildly about him. When he did, my eyes were drawn to the screwdriver in his right hand. A long screwdriver - not something that a woman would have in her tool box - at least an 18" screwdriver.

He said, "Look, lady, I got to have $450 for diapers. My kid needs diaper money."

"No problem," I softly said, "Just let me go to my room and I can help you out."

From deep inside me, I somehow knew I had to walk past this guy. Through my calmness, he seemed to begin to calm down as well. I walked past him as if he were an old friend. My gut was churning. I was almost nauseated. The bedroom was down the hall about 20 feet. He didn't follow me. I didn't hear him stirring about. I knew if I could just get to the bedroom I could use the phone and get my pistol.

I made it. I was safe, to an extent, in my own room.

I called 9-1-1.

"9-1-1 what is your emergency?" the operator asked.

"This is LinMarie. I have an intruder and I have him at gun point" I gave her my address then laid the phone down on the bed, keeping the line open. I was afraid to keep him waiting in the utility room for too long, for fear he would start to get angry and radical again. I slipped the handgun into my robe pocket. I put my hand in the pocket over the gun.

I walked slowly back to the utility room.

"Look, Bud, I would love to help you out, but I came home from work today sick and I guess that I left my purse in the car. If you'll follow me out I promise I will be happy to accommodate this situation."

"Please, " I kept thinking, "go outside and don't try to harm me."

I knew in my heart that I would kill him. Fear had engulfed me. I was running on pure adrenaline. What if the police didn't get here in a timely fashion? Stupid thoughts crept into play. What if I kill this man? What will my sons think? Don't shoot him in the house. You just got through painting the walls and refurbishing the utility room. Has this guy hurt someone in the past? Is he going to rape me? Does he have family? Is he on drugs? What if help doesn't arrive? Can you really kill someone? Can you live with yourself if you do? Would the police understand if he threatened me or tried to hurt me and I had to protect myself? What kind of ramifications could I face with the law? Thousands of other questions rolled through my mind as if I was watching a film flick of this scene or as if I were at a movie show and my life was racing in front of me.

As we walked towards outside, passing through the doorway, me leading the way, I kept thinking, "Just keep in control; don't let him know you are nervous too; keep him talking."

I had made it out the door, to the bottom of the stairs. He was behind me. He was out of my house. I heard a noise. I turned, to see him flop his buns down on the top step.

As I turned toward him, he shouted, "Look LADY," while raising his shirt over his head to show me, "I ain't got no weapon, no knife, no nothing. But you are gonna give me $450 for diapers." He started to lunge toward me.

I didn't even whence. I pulled my gun out, clicked a shell into the chamber and said, "You might not have one but I damn sure do and if you move one inch, I'm going to blow your balls off!"

"You're crazy," he screamed. "You're a crazy white just plumb ass crazy, crazy white bitch." He went ballistic. I knew that I now would have to hold my ground. If he did decide to come toward me, I knew I would have to back up my words.

He sat there for a while. Stiff. Sweat pouring from his brow. I kept thinking, "Where is the law?" I turned my head for just an instant beause I saw two people coming out of the funeral home across the street. I hollered, "Call the law. Please help me. Call the law. He broke into my house." They shook their heads "no" and went back into the funeral home.

When I turned around he was rising, he was lunging at me. No - he was running, he was running away. I put a dead aim on him. Then I realized that a stray bullet could hit someone next door if I wasn't on target.

He was running down the street. He was gone.

I ran back into my house, down the hall, to the bedroom and picked up the phone. The dispatcher was still there. "This is LinMarie. He just took off running toward Pennsylvania heading east. He is wearing a striped Polo type shirt and maroon sweat pants," I said through heavy panting.

"The police have him LinMarie. They are there. Go outside and meet the police and identify him," she said. I hung up the phone.

As I walked down the hallway to go outside, I laid my gun on top of the dryer in the utility room. I walked down the sidewalk to the gate of the fence that surrounds my property and saw an officer bringing him back toward the house. I could see three police cars in the back at the end of the street where they picked him up from, two police cars were in front and one on the side. I later found out that the time for the police arrival on that call was two minutes and 17 seconds. It seemed a life time.

Relief welled up in me and I was ready to cry. "No tears, LinMarie" I kept telling myself. I had stayed calm during the ordeal so far, yet, now, I was ready to bawl.

"That crazy white bitch gots a gun. She's a crazy m...f...." he was yelling to the officer. The officer stopped. My hands were still in my robe pockets.

"Do you have a gun?" the officer asked as he moved, who would later be referred to as The Diaper Bandit, in front of him as if to shield himself from any unexpected gun battle.

"Yes I own a gun. It is in the house on the dryer."

The officer ordered me to "put my hands on the fence."

All of a sudden my emotions turned to pure anger. How DARE this cop order me to put my hands on the fence when it was me who was the victim? I pulled my hands out of the robe, but did not put them on the fence. I reiterated to the officer that when I went back in to the house to talk with the dispatcher, I had left my gun on the dryer. That seemed to put the officer more at ease with the situation, and he moved more toward me with Diaper Bandit still being used as a shield in front of him.

During this time, The Diaper Bandit is hollering, "She a crazy white m....f.... bitch...she be real crazy.." His sounds became muffled as he was put into the back seat of a patrol car, after identifying the creep that had come into my house without permission and telling the officer what had happened. The scene was over. I was safe. Diaper Bandit was spitting at me from inside the patrol car. He was banging his head on the window, as if to break it out, to at least one more time tell me what he thought of me. I didn't care.

Relieved, I went back inside my home. My home. Not an intruder's home. My home.

A sergeant later came to the door and asked me to tell him again what had happened and everything that the guy had said to me. After I finished my story, the sergeant told me that this was the same motive that had been used on the lady three days earlier that had been raped in our neighborhood. My blood rushed. My cheeks got flushed. I felt sweat forming on my brow.
Reality set in. It could have been me, too. All I could say was, "Thank you, Sweet Jesus, for watching over me."

After going downtown, giving my statement to the detective division, I followed the saga of the Diaper Bandit through accounts published in the local newspaper. The other victim identified him as being the person who had raped her. There was also a lengthy rap sheet on the guy. He was out of jail on probation for drugs.

The smartest thing that he probably had ever done in his life was to plead guilt to it all. He won't have to worry about diaper money any more. He is now serving 258 years to run consecutively. After reading the articles, written in the newspaper, I wondered about his family, his mama, how I would feel if he were a child of mine. My oldest son is the same age as the Diaper Bandit.

It is a shame that kids throw away their lives, especially with drugs. The young twenty year old man's life was shot - and he could've easily been physically shot the afternoon he broke into my house. If he did happen to have a son, what future does the child have?

My own son came to see me the following weekend. I hugged him and could not stop wanting to touch him, hold his hand, touch the softness of his cheeks, pat him on the arm. He held my hand. I was grateful for life - for both my son's and mine. I was grateful that my son was and is the man he is today.

I hoped and prayed that my son would never be faced with the lifestyle of the Diaper Bandit.

I have also prayed for the family of the Diaper Bandit wherever and whoever they are. I realize that no matter what our children do wrong to us or in life, or how badly they may hurt us, they are still our children and we love them unconditionally.

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