Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hamilton, Montana

From Hamilton’s Ravalli Republic of April 25, 2006
Intruder prompts elderly Sula woman to get her gun

Phyllis Friesen sat in her bedroom Sunday night with a .357 pistol in her lap while a strange man raided her refrigerator and trashed her house.

Law enforcement officers arrived at the 80-year-old woman's cabin 15 miles up the East Fork of the Bitterroot River near Springer Memorial more than an hour after she called 911 to report the alleged intruder, 42-year-old Jerry D. Gensamer.

“I asked what the heck he was doing in my house and he never answered me - just started trashing the living room,” Friesen said.

Gensamer was charged in Justice Court Monday with a host of felony and misdemeanor offenses, including burglary and resisting arrest.

Gensamer entered Friesen's house through a door at about 10:15 p.m., she said. Friesen, who lives by herself, said she doesn't normally lock the door. After he ignored her questions, Friesen said she went into her bedroom, pulled out a gun and called 911.

“It wasn't as frightening as it would have been if I didn't have the gun,” she said.

Gensamer allegedly helped himself to food in Friesen's refrigerator, and at one point took out some food, wrapped it in newspaper and put it in the freezer. He rummaged through every room in the house, according to court documents, broke a couple of items and generally made a mess of the place.

“It was kind of funny,” Friesen said. “He was just weird.”

While Friesen remained in her room patiently waiting for sheriff's deputies to arrive, Gensamer went outside and attempted to use his set of keys to start her 1969 Dodge truck.

Friesen said Gensamer's vehicle got stuck at a nearby house and he walked through the woods to her house. The value of damaged items appears to be less than $1,000.

Deputies found Gensamer in the truck, court documents say. He refused to provide identification or to exit the truck until one of the officers threatened to taze him, according to court documents.

Ravalli County Chief Deputy Attorney Geoff Mahar said alcohol was involved.

Gensamer is being held in the Ravalli County Detention Center on $25,000 bail on felony burglary and attempted theft and misdemeanor criminal trespass, criminal mischief and resisting arrest charges. He will make his initial appearance in District Court in three weeks.

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