PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Portland family says they’re lucky their teen is okay after a close call with someone who broke into their home Wednesday night near SE 12th and Hawthorne. The 15-year-old was relaxing at home as her dad went out to get dinner, but says she never expected minutes later to be in a ‘fight or flight’ situation in her house.
A quiet summer night at her southeast Portland home, 15-year-old Liel Voss-Andreae was laying on the sofa waiting for her dad to come home, but when she heard rummaging in the kitchen, she thought it was odd that her dad didn’t say “Hi.” Then, her dog started barking.
“I saw someone pass by the room next to me,” Voss-Andreae said, noting she saw it out of her peripheral vision. “I felt watched for 2 or 3 minutes and that’s when everything clicked.”
She looked over to see a strange man who appeared to be homeless, standing in the same room and blocking one of the only ways out.
“I looked over and there was a man who I’ve never seen before,” said Voss-Andreae. “A scrawny old looking man and he had his pants half down without his underwear and he was touching himself.”
The man was blocking her way out, so she started screaming and gradually, the home invader backed out of the way through the kitchen, where she saw a large knife on the floor that had likely been picked up at some point by the suspect and later dropped.
“I didn’t know if he had a weapon with him, I didn’t know if he had bad intentions, I didn’t know if he was violent. I was extremely, extremely scared. With my fight or flight, I couldn’t flight, so I fought,” said Voss-Andreae. “I picked it up and I threatened him with it and I kind of chased him out of the house with it.”
After the man ran out, Voss-Andreae called her dad, who rushed home. They found more items abandoned in the kitchen that had likely come from their garage, including some rusty hedge clippers. They believe he got in through an unlocked back door. The family says since the man was gone, they called the non-emergency line, but were on hold for over an hour.
“It was a bit of a disappointing experience. I didn’t feel right to call 911 because it wasn’t an immediate danger,” said Julian Voss-Andreae, Liel’s father.
Portland police confirmed the investigation and say this is a case where if you find yourself in a similar situation, you should absolutely call 911. Julian says it was a terrifying experience to get that call from his daughter, but says she was very lucky.
“It’s very terrifying of course, but as a parent, you always have that situation that you have a child that is vulnerable and you cannot protect anybody 100%,” said Julian Voss-Andreae. “You do what you can, but you also can’t hover over them like crazy so I’m very proud of her. She did a wonderful job, she asserted herself, she stood up for herself and what else can a parent ask for.”
Despite what happened, Voss-Andreae says she wants people like the suspect to get help and get off the streets, hopefully keeping neighborhoods safer.
“I have to try to feel for them because it’s just so sad and we need to help these people,” said Liel Voss-Andreae.
Police say the investigation is ongoing and it doesn’t appear any arrests have been made.
The City of Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Communications — which runs 911 and the non-emergency line — also advises if you are not in a position to call 911, you can also text 911 for help. As for the non-emergency delays, they say that’s a result of short staffing and other issues and are working to improve those waits.