SAULT STE. MARIE — On Saturday morning Sault Ste. Marie Police Service issued a press release about a woman who was woken up by a man who had broken into her home and stood over her bed.
SooToday spoke to that woman, ‘A’, under an agreement of anonymity, and got more details about the incident.
A is a 20-year-old Algoma University Fine Arts student who's interests include painting and drawing, and who moved here in January.
She lives in a shared house on the 900-block of Pine Street with three Sault College students.
Her bedroom is in the basement with a backyard-level and backyard-facing window that, inside, is about 1.5 meters off her floor, and is separated from her bed by a a one-foot walking space created by her nightstand.
A had left her window open a crack the night before because sometimes her room gets warm, she said.
The incident occurred at 7:30 a.m. while A was still asleep.
A describes herself as a ‘very light sleeper’ and it was in one of those, half-awake, half-asleep moments that she felt something pressing multiple times on her bed followed by the sound of her laptop closing on the nightstand beside her.
“My eyes were closed and I thought I was maybe just having a bad dream,” she said.
She then heard light ‘taps’, but it was nothing too alarming.
“You know when you hear the crinkling of leaves outside (in the) wind? I’ve heard that before so I didn’t want to make anything out of it,” said A.
The taps were enough for A to open her eyes and that's when she saw the dark figure of a man standing up and looking out the window, in the small space between the wall and her bed.
“I was just scared. Is this the moment I fight for my life?” she said.
A didn’t have the clearest view of the man — her lights were off and this time of year, at that hour, it’s ‘like pitch black’ in her backyard.
Based on what she could tell in the dark, the man was in his mid-to-late thirties — ‘not young’ — and had no hair on the top of his head at all, or facial hair.
A described the man as being ‘chubby’, of ‘average height’, and she couldn’t tell anything about his skin tone in the dark.
He seemed to be wearing black pants, she thinks Timberland-like boots, and a short sleeve black shirt, she said.
Short sleeves might be considered strange — it was 4 C and very damp outside that morning.
“What are you doing?” A asked the man, who froze but didn’t reply.
“What are you doing?” she asked him again.
The man turned his head towards her, and that’s when she could see the burning red cherry of a lit cigarette.
She only recalled his reply to her after she calmed down, hours after the incident.
“Oh… um… I don’t know,” he said quietly in a voice that sounded ‘Canadian’.
“You know that moment when you’re trying to make decisions — he seemed contemplative to me,” said A, describing the man.
That’s when A, overwhelmed and scared, screamed as loud as she could, hoping to wake up her roommates through the thin dividing basement walls.
“It wasn’t until I screamed that he jumped out. When I said ‘what are you doing ?’ he could have jumped out that instance but he didn’t. It’s only when I screamed,” said A.
The height of the window, with no step, meant it took some agility for the man to leave she said.
“It was really high (from the floor). That’s how I know he wasn’t drunk. You know some people are drunk and they think, ‘oh, this is my house’? That couldn’t have been possible. It’s not that easy to just jump,” said A.
Once out of the window, the man ran through the backyard and north through the neighbour’s yard— A knows this because he triggered the neighbour’s motion light — but she did not see where he went after.
The neighbour, a woman over 40, was interviewed by SooToday the next day but said she never heard or saw anything.
The whole incident happened in seconds, said A.
Immediately after the man jumped out the window, A said her roommates came to her room to find her shaking, and not talking properly.
They asked if she was having a bad dream.
“No, there was a man in my room,” she told them, and she later confirmed it wasn’t a dream because there were smudges on the wall, indicating a presence.
A describes herself as a quiet student who basically just goes to school and home, and who doesn’t have a lot of friends from school coming over, she said.
She has a boyfriend in Toronto, and it wasn’t him, she said.
A doesn’t think the intruder was a thief because, if he was, he would have just snagged her laptop when he could have.
A short time after, A and her roommates called 911 and Sault Ste. Marie Police Service attended the scene.
Officers with the police department’s tactical and canine units searched the area but apprehended no one, said Staff Sergeant Chris Chiappetta, in a phone interview.
Nothing was stolen from the home, there was no damage, and police are expected to continue the investigation Monday, said Chiappetta.
No cigarettes were found on scene, he said.
“There is nothing to indicate the public is in danger and that this is anything other than an isolated incident at this point,” he said, adding that no other similar incidents have been reported in the area.
The 900-block of Pine Street only has homes on the east side of the road and on the west side is a wooded area that leads to Sault College.
Behind the homes is the north end of the P-Patch.
A’s backyard is not fenced off and easily accessible from nearby streets and surrounding homes as there isn't much but foot high obstacles dividing homes beside hers.
That section of Pine Street is heavily populated by college students.
Some neighbours were questioned by SooToday, but no one noticed anything or anyone strange recently.
A was still visibly shook up hours after the incident.
That day she called her mother, and said she will go see a counselor on Monday she said.
“At the end of the day I’m not going to allow this to get the best of me,” said A.