Friday, January 23, 2009

Shawano Wis, Don't Mess With Caroline

From the Shawano Leader.

Caroline, one tough lady. Don't mess with Caroline.
"Woman, 81, fends off attacker in home
By Kent Tempus, Leader editor

After hearing noises outside her home early Thursday morning, Caroline Rohde called police and ventured out of her bedroom.

She thought the sounds might be from the truck terminal down the street, but they were getting too loud.

Suddenly, two windows on the patio were smashed and then one in her kitchen. Then just as suddenly, a figure appeared in the doorway.

“I screamed and I screamed, and I couldn’t stop myself,” Rohde said Thursday. “And then that person starting screaming.”

The figure was swinging something.

“I grabbed what the stick was, and with the Lord’s help ... got a hold of the handle of it,” Rohde said.

The homeowner and the intruder struggled.

“You let go!” Rohde said the intruder yelled.

The 81-year-old Shawano woman yelled back: “You let go!”

The struggle continued, Rohde said, until the intruder apparently realized Rohde’s grip was loosening.

“She broke loose and ran out and down the sidewalk,” Rohde said.

After the intruder left, Rohde was surprised to see what was being swung at her.

“My goodness,” she said. “Here was a hatchet in my hand.”"
Shawano Leader

Wow. what strength she had.
Shawano Police officers arrived at the woman’s home on Maiden Lane a moment later, finding broken glass and footprints in the snow.

Rohde told officers the intruder — a woman — came toward her waving an object in the air. Rohde was able to get her in a “bear-hug” as they moved from room to room, and she was eventually able to get her hands on the handle of the hatchet.

The area was searched by the Shawano Police K-9 Unit. Other officers collected evidence at the home, which was sent to the state crime lab in Madison. The Shawano County Sheriff’s Department, along with several off-duty Shawano Police officers, assisted in the investigation, noted Capt. Jeff Heffernon.

Rohde believed the woman was the same person she helped on Nov. 1, the day after Halloween. Rohde said a woman came to the door at 5:45 a.m. that day and asked to use the phone.

The woman called a taxi and left without incident.

“I said to her, ‘Lord go with you,’” Rohde recalled.

Rohde was able to give officers a description of the woman, which led to a possible suspect. She identified a suspect through a photo line-up.

The 39-year-old suspect was arrested at her home on in Menominee County by Menominee Tribal Police about 10 a.m. Thursday on outstanding warrants. The case was referred to the Shawano/Menominee County District Attorney for charges.

Heffernon said Rohde handled “a truly a life-or-death situation” amazingly well.

“She did everything she could, given the circumstances,” Heffernon said. “I can’t say enough about her, and her ability to recall detail.”

“She impressed every police officer she came in contact with this morning,” Heffernon added.

Rohde doesn’t regret helping the woman last fall, and harbors no ill feelings toward her now.

“I don’t think she knew what she was doing,” she said. “I prayed for her many times since Halloween, and I prayed for her this morning that she wouldn’t do this to anyone else.

“I hope and pray to God no one else goes through this,” she added.

Later Thursday, Rohde said the attack “seems like it didn’t even happen” to her.

When asked how she was able to fend off the attacker, Rohde credited God.

“The Lord gave me strength to do it,” she said. “My hands are getting feeble, but the Lord gave be strength to hang on.”

Rohde described her attacker as slight. Rohde said the woman told her last fall she weighed just 103 pounds.

“My hope is for her to get better,” Rohde said. “I feel really bad for anyone having emotions that (they) can’t handle with God, because God promises to be with us.”

Rohde said she was “doing fine” and was cleaning up from the struggle after lunch Thursday. Her sons, Wayne and Eugene of Green Bay, had just left. They wanted their mother to come home with them. Her husband Harvey died 12 years ago.

“I’m here and I’m safe and sound,” Rohde said. “I’ve been here for 61 years and I’m going to stay here.”

It just goes to show when you need the strength and help from the Lord, He will be there.

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