Second Strike - The Statement
Witness statement # XZ/521-gh
Statement taken by Det. Lou Hirsch and Det. Jerry Orbach from Mrs Deliah Sturridge.
I guess it started about 12.30 on the day. Up until the, it had been perfectly normal – I’d seen the girls off to the school bus, watched my husband go off to work, and then headed into town to do some shopping and meet up with the girls for coffee.
So I wasn’t expecting when I opened the front door to the house that anything was wrong. Everything looked as it always does – kids playing in the yards, the wives going about their business. Nothing strange at all, at least that I could see. Then again, I wasn’t seeing everything that was going on – was I?
Sorry – I’ll keep to the point. I opened the door, walked in and closed the door behind me. My bags were on the table by the door as I hung my coat up, and then saw something out of the corner of my eye.
That was when the first man grabbed me, pushed me up against the wall and slapped a gloved hand over my mouth. I looked at him – well, what I could see of him – as he stared at me through the eye slots of the balaclava that covered his head. He called out to someone else “Get the room sorted!” and then said to me “Keep quiet, do as we tell you, and you’ll have a tale to tell the girls over coffee tomorrow.”
I stood there shaking as another man came in from the front room. They were both dressed in denim jeans and shirts, but the masks over their heads were jet black, and the gloves on their hands leather – I still smell the aroma in my nostrils.
“Good – we can get started then,” the other man said. “If I take my hand away, do you promise not to scream or do anything stupid?”
I nodded to show I wouldn’t do anything, and the man took his hand away. I looked at the two of them standing there, as they also looked at me.
“Take your jacket off, love” one of them said to me, “You need to be comfortable for a little while.” I wondered what he meant by that, but pulled the zip down on my leather jacket and took it off.
“Just let it drop to the floor,” they told me, “someone else will pick it up later. Let’s go into the front room – we can talk there.”
“What do you want,” I asked as they led me into the front room. I saw that the blinds had been drawn down, leaving the room in semi-darkness.
“We want your nice things, lady, and we want you to see us doing it. Now, put your hands behind your back and don’t move.”
I wondered what was going to happen, but given the fact the two of them towered over me, I did as they asked. I felt my wrists been pulled together, and then something rough been tied over the wrists of my long sleeved top, keeping them together. Looking over my shoulder, I saw that they were using a thin length of rope to tie them together. As he passed the rope between my wrists, I realised there was no way I was going to be able to separate them without help.
“There now – I hope that’s not too tight,” the man said as he handed his partner a longer length of the rope. My top was a cotton one, with a swirling paisley pattern on it, but as he passed the rope around my arms and chest I could see my breasts becoming more prominent as the rope tightened, holding my arms in one place. Hew passed it round several more times, then turned me round and tied the ends behind my back, in a way that I could feel my wrists been pulled up.
“Very nice – why don’t you take a seat, and then we can get started.”
That’s what they said as they pushed me down onto the seat. One of them put my feet on the footstool in front of the chair and started to tie them together with more rope, the cords cutting into the bare skin of my ankles as they avoided the legs of my pants.
“Now, love, tell me the combination to your safe.”
“What?” I looked up from watching the other man tie my legs together above my knees, as the other one stood over me.
“The safe in the office in the back – combination, or else I have to force you to tell me.”
I didn’t like the sound of that, so I gave him the sequence and watched him walk off. The other one stood up, let my legs drop to the floor, then picked up a large bag and started to take the silver out of the display cabinets and put it in.
At this point, I had realised it was a robbery, so I decided the best thing to do was co-operate and let things carry on in their course. I watched him systematically sort through the display cabinets and put our silver into the bag, then close it and leave it on the floor as he picked up my handbag. I asked him ehat he was doing with it, but realised the answer when he took my purse out and started to take out the money and credit cards.
These he handed to the other men as he came in, then he went off and I heard him walk up the main staircase. By this time it was – two o’clock, yes two o’clock. I remember because I heard the clock in the kitchen strike the hour. By this time, I was wondering how much longer they were going to be – I just wanted them out of there so that I could start to get free.
Which is why I was surprised when the two men met up again in the front room with me, and sat down in the two chairs. I stared at them, wondering what was going on, when the man who had first grabbed me stood up and walked over.
“We need to wait a little while, love, so I hope you don’t mind,” he said as he reached into the bag and drew out some handkerchiefs and a roll of silver tape.
“No please,” I said as eh rolled the handkerchief into a ball, but he just smiled and pinched hold fo my nose. I tried so hard not to, but eventually I opened my mouth and he pushed the cloth in. Tearing off a strip of tape, he pressed it over my lips – he did that three times before sitting back down.
The three of us just sat there, as from time to time one of them stood up and looked through the blinds into the street outside. I had no idea what was going on, why they were still there, but I was afraid – scared shitless, if I’m being honest. As the minutes passed, I was becoming more and more worried about what they were planning to do to me – and as the clock struck three, what they would do if they were still here when my daughters got back from school.
I struggled a bit, partly because of the cramp in my wrists and legs, but mainly to try and get them out of there, when I heard a vehicle of some type pull up outside the house. One of the men stood up, looked out through the blinds, and nodded to his partner. The two of them stood up, collected the bags of things they had taken, and left the room, but one of them came back with the scarf I had left next to my bag.
“Night night,” he said as he tied the woollen scarf over my eyes, and left me sitting there. I heard the door closing, then the front door opening and closing again. All that was left was the silence and the noise of the street outside. I managed to lie on my side, and stayed there until my daughters came back. I can still hear the scream as they came in and found me there.
The really strange thing was when I found out a few days later they had used my card to order some things from one of those shopping channels – they never appeared here, and they could not trace the order at all….