Friday, November 28, 2008

North Carolina: Burglar no match for shotgun-toting couple

Gaston, North Carolina

From the Gaston Gazette of November 24, 2008
Burglar no match for shotgun-toting couple

A would-be burglar who'd been scared off from one house by a 70-year-old woman found himself a few minutes later staring down the wrong end of a shotgun at another, police say.

And before the sun rose Sunday, Joshuah Scott Rutledge probably figured out that this northern Gaston County town wasn't ripe for the picking.

"If they think Stanley is sleepy, they've got another thing coming," said 56-year-old Phyllis Osborne, who now calls her 62-year-old husband Richard her "knight in shining armor."

Rutledge, 26, of Oakboro was reportedly climbing through a bathroom window of a woman's home on the 3500 block of N.C. 27 in Stanley at 4:30 a.m. Sunday when the woman, who'd had her 70th birthday the week before, spotted him and scared him away before he could get inside.

He then apparently went to a house across the street off N.C. 27 on Watts Street, this time making it inside.

But once inside he found himself staring at Richard Osborne and an old shotgun that his wife's grandfather had once used to slaughter hogs. Whether the gun would still fire a shot remains in question.

Rutledge had pulled a bedspread down to cover him as he lay in the floor in a guest bedroom, Phyllis Osborne said.

But the couple could see his knuckles poking out.

"We told him, ‘If you don't come out we're going to blow your brains out,'" Phyllis Osborne said Monday. "We had to say it three times, but then he jumped up and said, ‘I'm in the wrong house. I'm in the wrong house.'"

At first Rutledge insisted he'd come to the house looking for a friend. Then he said he was there to meet the Osborne's daughter, whom he claimed to have met on the Internet.

But the Osborne's only daughter lives in Georgia, married to a law enforcement officer.

"I wasn't scared, I was mad," Richard Osborne said. "I was mad because he scared my wife."

The Osbornes have been married 30-plus years. He has a little trouble hearing, she can hear a squirrel walking across the roof.

When she heard something Sunday morning she knew someone had entered their home. Even after a quick lookaround produced nothing, she said she was sure something wasn't right.

Richard Osborne then saw the bedspread pulled down from the bed. Phyllis Osborne keeps an impeccable house.

"I'm very particular," Phyllis Osborne said. "My bed has to be made. Not a wrinkle in it."

Rutledge answered Mrs. Osborne with "Yes, mam," and "No, mam,'" she said.

Mr. Osborne had to punch him once and hit him twice with the gun. One strike with the gun came when Rutledge insisted on lighting up a cigarette while waiting on police to arrive, he said.

The Osbornes praised Stanley Police officers for their quick response and follow-up investigation.

Arresting Officer J.L. Springs said Rutledge has not told them what he was doing in the area. He apparently was walking because police have not been able to find a vehicle.

The incident shook the Osbornes up. The first woman who encountered Rutledge that night could not be reached for comment, but Springs said she was doing OK.

Mrs. Osborne said Monday that she still wasn't ready to go back inside her home unless her husband was with her.

But she also said she was ready to forgive. She's repeated to herself a common phrase from her pastor, Bishop Robert Gittens, at Revival Tabernacle Church.

‘"Love heals and hatred destroys,'" she said, quoting her pastor.

As of Monday night, Rutledge remained in Gaston County Jail under $100,000 bond facing two charges of first-degree burglary.

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