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Break-in stabbing alarms neighborhood

"An early morning break-in that turned into a melee between the intruder and the residents, and ended with a stabbing, has residents of the Oak Harbor Street neighborhood totally freaked out, neighbor Bethany Lamb said.But Lamb said she's not only upset about the boldness and violence of the crime, but what she sees as a lack of response and a sloppy investigation by the Oak Harbor Police Department.Captain Rick Wallace, however, said detectives are in the midst of a thorough investigation and are doing all they can to find the suspect. Wallace said the woman woke up in the dark at about 3 a.m. Saturday and realized that there was someone in her bedroom besides her husband. She sense motion and started to scream.Her husband awoke and struggled with the intruder, but the intruder overpowered him and pushed him into a closet. The intruder then struggled briefly with the woman - who is seven months pregnant - but her husband broke out of the closet after hearing her heightened screams for help.The intruder and the man starting fighting again, but the intruder was eventually overpowered and left the house on foot.Wallace said it wasn't until after the intruder left that the resident realized he had been stabbed several times in the upper torso with an unknown object.Meanwhile, the man's wife had run out of the house and went to Lamb's home. Lamb said her dogs had started barking wildly several minutes before hearing the woman at her door. The woman was screaming he's after me, he's after me and rang the doorbell until Lamb and her husband let her in and called 911The man was transported to Whidbey General Hospital with the stab wounds, which were serious but not life-threatening. He was treated and released the same day.Wallace said the couple were not able to get a look at the intruder since their bedroom, with all windows covered by shades, was completely dark. The only description is that the intruder was a man about 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2 and weighs around 230 pounds.Investigators have no way of knowing what the intruder's motives were. Wallace said it may have been a burglary attempt, but nothing was taken from the house. There is also a possibility, he said, that it was an attempted sex crime.Wallace said detectives don't think the break-in is linked to an Aug. 1 case in which a man posed as a law enforcement officer to get into a woman's house - also on Oak Harbor Street - and then handcuffed and sexually assaulted her.But right now, he said investigators have little to go on in either case.While the police continue to follow a couple of small leads, Lamb said residents near the house, which is on Oak Harbor Street between Whidbey Avenue and NE Seventh, are both terrified and angry.After the police searched the area, Lamb said she found a collection of beer cans and beer bottles in her yard, which is adjacent to the victims' home. She believes the beer was consumed by the intruder before he went into the house. She called the police and an officer picked up the cans and bottles as evidence.She said the victim themselves also came home and found a screwdriver, which did not belong to them, still laying on the ground after the detectives had processed the scene. They also called the police and an officer picked it up.Also, Lamb said she was upset when she found out that her neighbors had not been contacted by the police and were not warned about the break-in and stabbingMy confidence in the Oak Harbor Police Department is zip right now, she said. They missed evidence and they didn't bother alerting the neighbors. But Wallace defends the investigations and says that everything was done by the numbers. I understand that (Bethany Lamb) is very afraid and her anger is fear-based, but I stand by the investigation that was done, he said. We did a thorough investigation and we dispute her account of it.Wallace said the beer cans were not significant evidence and detectives had no way of knowing that the screwdriver did not belong to the residents without their help.As far as notifying the resident, Wallace said that people who live near the house are in no greater danger than people in other parts of the city and department resources are being directed at solving the crime instead of knocking on doors. He urges residents in all areas of the city to take extra precautions in keeping their families and homes safe.-------------You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611. "

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