Friday, March 14, 2003

Arrest eases victim whose home invaded

Man forced way in with gun

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD TWP. - Angie Lawson says she'll sleep more soundly now that police have arrested a suspect in the Feb. 25 home invasion at her Allstatter Avenue residence - thought to be the first such crime in at least four years in this community.

"I've been afraid," Angie, 17, said Thursday. "I've been staying up at night, having trouble going to sleep."

A Crime Stoppers tip resulted in an aggravated robbery charge being lodged against Robert Purdue Jr., 40, of West Chester Township, in connection with the home invasion. On Thursday, Purdue was being held in the Butler County Jail.

"I was worried about this one," said Fairfield Township Police Chief Richard St. John. "Home invasions are a particularly violent type of crime - and it makes people feel unsafe in their own homes ... and if you have one, you want to do everything you can to get it solved."

Purdue was arrested Wednesday after West Chester police tried to stop him for an alleged traffic violation. After a chase, West Chester police caught him, Sgt. John said. West Chester officers learned that neighboring police wanted to question Purdue and notified Fairfield Township Detective Gary Welsh, who had been investigating the home invasion. Welsh said he followed a trail of addresses and informants' tips to identify Purdue as the home-invasion suspect.

A police report gave this account of the Feb. 25 incident:

At noon, a masked man came into the home through an unlocked front door. He pointed a gun at Angie, while her 1-year-old daughter, Destiny, sat in a stroller, and ordered, "Take me to your mom or I will kill your baby."

The gunman demanded the grandmother's purse, which contained prescription drugs. The robber fired a shot into a wall, then left.

The grandmother told an Enquirer reporter the crime happened while she was watching a TV news report about a suspected double homicide in nearby Hamilton - a case that became a possible triple homicide later in the day.

In that case, police on Thursday would not say whether Donald J. Ketterer, 53, who is accused of killing Lawrence B. Sanders, 85, could be linked to the deaths of two of Sanders' neighbors: Helen Riley, 55, who bled to death from neck wounds, and her husband, Donald, 44, whose cause of death remains undetermined.


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