SALEM — The Dearborn Street woman was in bed, just before 2 a.m., when she heard a loud noise from the living room, she told police.
She got up to investigate. But as she got out of bed, she was confronted by a man holding a kitchen knife, standing near her bedroom door.
The woman told the intruder he could have money or whatever else he wanted, and she said there was a wallet on the kitchen table. The man told her he’d already taken the $27 that was in the wallet. Then he shushed her so her adult son, sleeping upstairs, wouldn’t hear.
The details of the woman’s terrifying encounter inside her own home emerged from court papers filed yesterday in Salem District Court during the arraignment of Mark Arsenault, 20, a homeless man police say is the burglar. He pleaded not guilty to armed burglary, larceny and malicious destruction charges.
Arsenault is being held without bail pending a hearing Jan. 22 into whether he poses a danger if released.
The woman said Arsenault, holding a knife he’d taken from her kitchen drawer, confided, “I’ve never done this before. I have no money.”
He also told her he would pay her back, according to the police report.
The woman told the intruder that she wouldn’t call police if he just left.
She led him to a door on the side of the house and watched him walk slowly toward the street. In addition to the cash, he had taken a blank check, her cellphone and the knife.
After he left, she realized that the man had cut the lines to her phone and modem and that he’d entered through a window she’d forgotten to lock.
She woke her son and used his cellphone to call police.
Police caught Arsenault just hours after the burglary early Tuesday morning after making the connection between the description the woman had given them and a suspect caught shoplifting a package of beef jerky on surveillance video at the 7-Eleven earlier in the night.
Police spotted Arsenault walking on Webb Street, near his grandmother’s home, around 5 a.m.
He admitted stealing the jerky and hitting the clerk, who had chased him out.
Asked about the burglary, Arsenault “wavered” and then said, “I only took $27 from a wallet,” police said.
He allegedly admitted that he went into the house to evade the store clerk, who was still following him. Once inside, he helped himself to some orange juice, then took the cash, police said. When he saw the bedroom light go on, he grabbed the knife, he allegedly told police.
Police say he admitted to unplugging the computer modem and cutting the phone line so the woman could not call police.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.