Another family shares home break-in story

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fourteen-year-old Rachel Riley stood silent in the bathroom closet and listened to an intruder enter the adjacent bedroom. She whispered to her mother on the phone, “He’s in your room. He’s going to kill me.”

The day after a young Troy couple fought for their lives during a home invasion, Riley’s mother came forward to share her family’s story.

It was Feb. 24 and Rachel had just returned from a class trip to Washington D.C. She asked her father to pick her up when the bus arrived at the school about 7 a.m. so she could sleep in her own bed, instead of going home with friends.

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“He took her to the house and made sure she locked the doors,” said Rachel’s mother, Donna Riley. “She was unpacking and getting settled. Thank goodness she’d not already gone to bed.”

Just after 11, Rachel phoned her mother who was at work at Troy University. She relayed that she was hiding in her bedroom.

“She said a very large man was knocking on the back door,” Donna said.

Rachel would always call her mother if someone pulled into the driveway and she was home alone. Donna said since the family’s home is in a country area just over the Bullock County line, her daughter was always very cautious about strangers on the property.

Donna said she tried to call a couple of people who would have been close to their home and could come over to check on her daughter, but cell service in the country is spotty and she didn’t reach anyone.

“She said, ‘Mom wait a minute. He’s going back to his car. I think he’s going to leave,’ ” Donna said.

But the man wasn’t planning on driving away.

“She said, ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God! He’s getting some kind of tool. He’s going to break in,’ ” Donna said. “I told her to run … run to my bedroom, go in my bathroom and lock the door.”

Donna called 911, then called her uncle who was only a few miles away and asked him to go to Rachel.

“Rachel said, ‘Oh, my God! He broke in the house. He’s in the house,’ ” Donna said.

Donna tried to quiet her daughter with reassurances that God was with her.

“I told her there were angels all around her. Then she said, ‘He’s in your room. He’s going to kill me,’ ” Donna recalled. “I was on my knees at the office and I looked up at the ladies in my office and said, ‘Pray. Pray. Pray.’ ”

Moments later, Donna could hear her uncle calling for Rachel in the house. The intruder had left without finding her daughter.

“I fully believe an angel was standing guard outside that bathroom door. I don’t know why he didn’t go in that room,” Donna said. “We are so blessed, and grateful.”

The man who broke in the Riley’s home did so by kicking in the back door, and he left without taking anything – including the laptop and two cameras he walked by in the kitchen.

Rachel gave Bullock County Sheriff’s Deputies a description, but told them she only got a profile view. The man was about 6 feet tall, black with short hair and very large. He was driving a late model car that Rachel described as “burnt orange.”

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said his department was working in cooperation with Bullock County to catch the man who broke into the Riley’s home.

“We are continuing to investigate and we have some promising leads,” Thomas said. “We feel good about the case.”

Donna said that the incident was a learning lesson for her family and her neighbors.

“It definitely has made us more pro-active and we are trying to be more prepared,” Donna said. “We are more aware of what could happen.”

A call to the Bullock County Sheriff’s Office was not returned Tuesday.

In tomorrow’s edition of The Messenger, read tips from law enforcement officials on how to protect yourself and your family if someone breaks into your home.