Home break-in and attack leave family shaken and shocked
Karen Wheeler always felt safe in her home in Labrador City, but not anymore.
At around 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Wheeler’s 21-year-old stepson, Brandon, came home.
When he unlocked the front door and entered his home, he was attacked by someone who had come into the house previously — completely unknown to Wheeler and her spouse, Cathy — Brandon’s mother.
“The person used a knife from our knife block and cut him on the forehead several times and ran out the door,” said Wheeler.
“Stunned, he called out to us. Cathy and I came out to find Brandon in the porch with his face covered in blood. The first thing Cathy noticed was a bloody knife on the floor in the porch. Brandon told us what happened and said for us to call 911. I called 911, and the police came.”
Wheeler said there was no sign of forced entry, so she is unsure how the person got into their home. She noted they did have a key hidden outside the home, and she said she thinks the assailant might have found it and gained entry that way.
After checking to make sure Brandon was OK, Wheeler and Cathy searched the house to see if anything had been taken.
“We were very surprised to see that nothing was missing,” she said. “The only thing we noticed was that Brandon’s room door was opened and that the bottom of his TV stand where he keeps his video games and movies was wide open. He always keeps his room door closed when he is gone out, and it was closed when we went to bed.”
The next morning, Wheeler contacted a local security system dealer and had a system installed in their home as soon as possible.
“This is an experience I would never want to go through again,” she said. “Having your sense of safekeeping taken from you is the one of the worst feelings in the world. I was fearful to go to bed the night after, even with the new security system installed. I am hoping with the help of the RNC and getting our story out to the public, that we will find out who did this.”
Wheeler said her stepson was not able to get a description of his attacker, as there were no lights on in the house at the time of the incident.
‘Someone was in our bedroom’
Wheeler is not the only Lab West resident to have her world turned upside down by a crime in recent weeks.
Meaghan O’Quinn’s life was also changed by crime.
“I am in ultimate shock,” she said. “This incident has changed my life.”
The incident in question was a burglary at her home in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, Aug. 25.
Between 1 and 3:30 a.m., a person or persons, made their way into O’Quinn’s home where she lives with her husband and small daughter, and stole her laptop and charger.
Both O’Quinn and her husband were out with friends for the evening and their daughter was spending the night at her grandparents’ house.
“Someone was in my home, went right into my bedroom,” said O’Quinn. “I feel so violated.”
O’Quinn said her laptop — which is normally stored away — was resting on her bed, as she was using it just minutes before leaving her house with her friends at 1 a.m. that morning.
“My charger was in a drawer next to my bed, and they took that, too,” she said.
“The odd thing is, there was also a camera in the drawer, and my work iPhone was right on top of the night table, and that was still there. It was very strange that they would have left those things.”
O’Quinn said it was about 20-30 minutes before she even realized anything was gone after she got home later that morning.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell anyone had been there, other than the laptop and charger missing,” she said.
“They never even touched the liquor bottles that had been in the kitchen prior to me and my friends leaving the house.”
O’Quinn said she gave a statement to the RNC and believes an investigation is forthcoming.
The incident has left her shaken to the core.
“I am constantly terrified now,” she said. “I lock the doors as soon as I get in the house; I check and double-check the locks when we leave. … The fact there is a person out there now with my personal life — three years’ worth of pictures and videos on my laptop — in their hands, it has changed me in a drastic way.”
O’Quinn said her husband is also very angry about the matter.
“We both grew up here, but this is not the place we grew up. This is a small town and people talk about what a great place it is to raise kids. But is it really?”
O’Quinn said she and her husband are questioning the supposed randomness of the break-in.
“Was it random? Or was this personal? Was this someone trying to hurt me or us? Who do we trust? We really don’t know what to think anymore.”
Although O’Quinn noted she feels to blame in one sense, as she left the front door unlocked as her husband forgot his keys, she still believed her community was safer and more trustworthy than what she has come to experience.
“After I put out my story on Facebook, I found there were several other people in the community with similar stories, which I was not aware of at the time,” she said.
“I think it’s important for people to know what it going on in the community and to be more cautious.”
O’Quinn said she is also considering offering a “significant” reward for the safe return of her 15-inch MacBook Pro and charger.
“I’m not interested in pressing charges,” she said. “I just don’t want my personal life out there in someone’s hands.”
Anyone with information on these crimes can contact the local RNC detachment or Crimestoppers.