Victims of weekend home invasion in Ledyard criticize delay in arresting suspect
Ledyard ― A Gales Ferry couple is frustrated and questioning the legal process they say has allowed the man who violently broke into their home on Sunday to walk free.
Sam Whittle and Samantha Mazzone said three days seems like an awfully long time to wait for an arrest of a man already identified by police, who lives nearby and who was taken into custody just minutes after the frightening events of Sunday evening.
The couple decided to go public to make their case for something to be done.
“We do not know what else to do,” Whittle said in a statement. “The police and court system have failed to effectively arrest (the suspect), the police have denied our pleas for extra protection, the court system has denied our request to obtain a permanent or temporary civil protection order against him and as a result, (the suspect) is assumed to be back in our neighborhood 700 ft away from us, free to move as he pleases.”
“All while we remain in our house feeling powerless and scared that the events may happen again to us or one of our neighbors,” he added.
The young couple, who spoke to The Day on Wednesday, said they had just returned to their home on North Glenwoods Road on Sunday after a few days away. Whittle, 24, an engineer for Electric Boat, was preparing for a shower upstairs. Mazzone, a 23-year-old nurse at Backus Hospital in Norwich, was downstairs.
They both heard several loud banging noises.
Mazzone said she thought maybe her husband had fallen and called for him. She rounded the corner to find the front door forced open and a strange man standing in the foyer. The man was mumbling something incomprehensible, she said.
“We made eye contact. I froze for a second and then started screaming. I turned and ran,” Mazzone said.
She said the man followed her, grabbing at her. She fell, suffering several injuries that included a injured shoulder.
Whittle, after hearing his wife’s scream, came down the stairs and found his wife on the floor where she had fallen and the man standing over her. Whittle said he began continually striking the man, punching him in the head, until the man fell to the ground. He placed the man in a choke hold, dragging him towards the front foyer.
Whittle described the man as large, six feet tall and at least 250 pounds, wearing a tank top and uttering odd phrases, eventually acting apologetic as if he didn’t expect someone to be home. Whittle said his first thought was the man was high on drugs.
Mazzone was on the phone with police while Whittle continued to hold the man. But Whittle said he was starting to get fatigued and “doubting whether or not I can continue to hold him until police arrived.”
The man was erratic, showing bursts of energy, Whittle said. He was able to shove the man out of the front door. The next problem was that the door had been busted open and Whittle said he had to hold it closed as the man continued to try and shoulder his way back in. The man eventually gave up trying to get in.
“He walked to the side of the house. He’s banging our cars, talking to himself and very clearly out of his mind,” Whittle said.
The man’s actions after the home invasion were caught on surveillance camera video Whittle shared with The Day.
Police arrived moments later and found the man nearby. They surrounded him, restrained him and transported him to the hospital for an evaluation.
Ledyard Police Chief John Rich said the man, who has not yet been charged, was taken to Backus Hospital for a medical evaluation. Rich said officers applied for an arrest warrant with the New London County State’s Attorney’s Office on Monday.
New London County State’s Attorney Paul Narducci said Wednesday that the warrant was under review and because of the nature of the alleged crime his office was working with Ledyard police to “expeditiously address the matter.”
Whittle said he’s called police multiple times to ask about the arrest and why the man was not at least held at the hospital until a warrant was signed. He said he was informed the man was discharged from the Backus emergency department on Monday “and allowed to run from arrest or return to our neighborhood.”
It was not a comforting thought, Whittle said, knowing the man could attempt the same thing that happened just a few nights before. The couple said they attempted to apply for a civil protection order against the man but were rejected.
“I feel like we’re treading water here,” Whittle said.