Albany woman: 'My gun is near me at all times'

Albany woman: 'My gun is near me at all times'


by Mike Benner & Mark Hanrahan, KGW Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeBennerKGW

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Updated Friday, May 16 at 5:22 AM

ALBANY, Ore. -- In the small town of Albany, neighbors are on edge after a string of recent crimes including a murder, a sexual assault and several late-night burglaries in the same part of town.

Jaime Thomas is too afraid to let her kids out of her sight.  Just last week her neighbor was the victim of a sexual assault.

"This is really concerning, really hitting close to home," Thomas said.

Detectives said the suspect had a gun. Somehow he got onto the woman's balcony and sneaked inside an open door.

"I'm so scared someone will come into my own home now," Thomas said.

Nobody is in custody, but authorities are looking for a person of interest in the case.

As investigators try to determine if the murder, sexual assault and burglaries are connected, some people who live in the area have taken security into the own hands.

“I was up all night. I check on the kids constantly,” said Heather Meeds. “My gun is out of the safe and near me at all times when it’s dark.”

Background: Man climbs balcony, rapes Albany woman

Just a few blocks away, at the Brookshore Apartments, detectives are investigating a homicide.  An 8-year-old boy called police when he found his mom bleeding.  Officers raced to the scene and found Angela Stephenson shot to death.

More: Boy, 8, reports mother's death to Albany police

"There's nothing at the initial look at either case that points to them being related," said Captain Eric Carter.  "But we're certainly not going to rule anything out."

Related or not, the two cases are simply too much for neighbors to handle.

”I find myself checking windows and doors, especially in the middle of the night,” said Shay Hunter, another neighbor. “I mean it’s on the second floor, but still it’s very nerve racking.”

"I probably won't leave the house for awhile now," added Laura Caldwell. 

You are urged to call 911 if you have information about either case.