News Stories / Tourists Swart Invasion Of Rental Home; Police Refuse To Take Incident Report


By John Guerra


A Kansas City couple say they were lucky to escape unharmed after battling a man who tried to force his way into their rental home on William Street three weeks ago.



Chad Morrissey, who described the events of the early hours of Feb. 17 to KonkLife, said he wants residents to be aware of the danger in which they could find themselves. He said the couple didn’t know about the serial burglaries in nearby streets until they returned to Kansas City and found articles about the break-ins online.



The Key West Police Department has been unable to arrest a suspect dubbed the “cemetery burglar,” who so far quickly exits houses when residents discover him in their homes. Because police initially wouldn’t write a report of the incident, Morrissey, who battled the stranger, believes police are trying to keep his ordeal from the public.



“We thought so passionately about the people of Key West being lied to, we wanted to let the truth be told there’s something serious going on,” he said. “[The burglar] keeps getting away with it. For  God’s sake, you’ve got to protect yourself.”



The Morrisseys also said the police officers who responded to their calls for help talked them out of making a report of the incident. After those officers left, the couple called police again to make sure a report was written. The officer who came to the house after the second call didn’t write a report either, the Morrisseys and police said.



Key West police spokeswoman Alyson Crean subsequently emailed an account of the incident to neighbors that indicates police don’t think what happened to the Morrisseys is related to the previous burglaries.



On the day before the 1 a.m. attack, the Morrisseys had spent the day jet skiing, followed by an evening at Cafe Soleil before returning home to the home they were renting at 525 William St. Shortly after getting home, Jennifer Morrissey said, she heard someone picking, or using some kind of tool, at the door knob of the front door.



In Chad Morrissey’s own words, here’s how the attack went down:



“The TV was on, the music was on, the lights were on, the house was totally lit up. It’s not like the guy thought no one was home. The house was well lit up.



“I went out to the back of the house and turned the outside lights on, turned the hot tub on, which was by the back fence. The hot tub wasn’t heating up. I went to the side of the house, where the heating unit was for the hot tub to check the temperature. I was going back and forth from the hot tub to the side of the house.



“My wife hears someone trying to open the front door. She ran outside into the back yard and yelled, ‘Chad, somebody is at the front door trying to get in.’ I was right on the side of the house when I heard her. I ran through the house to the front door. By the time I got to the front door, he was picking at the lock. It was a thinner wooden door with window glass, fogged white, top half. I couldn’t see through it, only a man’s silhouette. I could hear it. Pick pick, pick pick. I yell, ‘What the (xxx)  are you doing at my front door? ‘Hey get the (xxx) off my front porch.’



“I looked down at the lock to make sure it was locked, that was my first reaction. I go to turn the deadbolt to the right to make sure, but it was installed in such a way that I accidentally unlocked it and the door swung open halfway. When the door swung open, because he was picking with the one hand, he started to pull it [open] toward him with the other.



“I don’t see him, he is behind the door and pulling on it, and I’m pulling on it, and I’ve got both hands, firm grip, I get low, and pull it like my life is on the line, and he’s still pulling. He was coming in. He didn’t care that we were awake, he didn’t care that I yelled at him, he kept pulling.



As her husband struggled with the man at the front door, he yelled to his wife to call 911. She ran into the bathroom with a phone and called.



Here’s her account:



“I told the dispatcher, I told her that I was glad I remembered the address, because we had used cabs to get to the house. I told her the address, and [the dispatcher asked] ‘What’s going on?’ She could hear Chad screaming. I told her there’s somebody at the door and my husband’s dealing with him and I’m in the bathroom. She asked, ‘Does the person at the door have a weapon?’ I told her, ‘I don’t know, I’m not out there.’ She asked, ‘Does your husband have a weapon?’ I said ‘No.’ She was real helpful, kept asking what was going on  now. I told her I didn’t think the guy was leaving, and she told me over the phone that there are a lot of drunk people who go to the wrong door and hopefully that was what was going on. She said, ‘I can tell you the cops are on their way and they’ll be there in a few minutes.'”



Meanwhile, at the front door, Chad Morrissey said the man he was struggling with said something that chilled him.



“When I was pulling and he was pulling, I yelled behind me, ‘Get the shotgun. The shells are in the closet!’ to give the man the idea that I had a gun,” Chad Morrissey said. “Then the man said, quiet, calmly, mildly, “You don’t have a gun.”



“It was like he was saying, ‘Do you like butter pecan?’ It was fearless, intent.”



Though he couldn’t get a good look at his opponent, Morrissey said he could see by the silhouette on the other side of the frosted glass that the man was tall.



“He was about 6’1″ tall, this guy was taller than me, but I’m a stout guy. I had two hands on the knob and I gave it everything. I finally pulled the door shut, turned the lock the right way and it shuts and locks.”



The tug-of-war ended when a police cruiser, its emergency roof lights flickering off houses and trees, became visible down the street. The man on the porch ran away before police came into view.



Chad Morrissey believes he was fighting for his, and his wife’s life.



“I could feel the guy’s energy … like he wants to come in and (mess)  us up, bodily harm stuff. He wasn’t there for my wallet. He might have taken it, but he was there for more. How is he going to be a cat burglar if he’s going to be fighting to get in my door? That is no lie.’



“I saw the police lights and two uniformed police officers walk up and say, “What’s going on? We just told them the story, this guy was hammering at the front door, trying to get in. They said it was probably just a drunk guy coming home and going to the wrong house. I said, ‘No, it wasn’t. I’m not saying the guy hadn’t had a drink, but he wasn’t drunk. He didn’t smell of alcohol when the door opened. This was not a drunk man.’



“They leave, my wife and I are sitting there, I said, ‘Go get the butcher knife. We don’t feel safe. We don’t have a gun, you can see inside the house from every angle. Then I started thinking about the cops downplaying what I said, so I called 911 to get someone down here again, I wasn’t represented properly. The first guys did not take a report though I had asked them to. Then the second guy came, and he asks ‘What do you want?’ He had an arrogant attitude.



I said I want this reported, but he said, ‘There’s no reason to do a report here, I can’t do a report if there is no reason to do one.'”



The Morrisseys could not stay in the house another night. They left quickly, got a room at the Best Western by the airport and spent the night. The next day they returned to the house, packed their things and flew back to Kansas City.



It was back home in Kansas City that Jennifer Morrissey went online and discovered the multiple burglaries, the police department’s unsuccessful attempts to catch the burglar, and read about the town hall meeting between Key West Police Chief Donie Lee and residents who complained about the unsolved crimes.



She emailed Lee with a detailed account of the attack. In that email — provided to KonkLife by the police department — Jennifer Morrissey complained that officers would not fill out an incident report. She also wrote Lee that police treated the couple with a lack of concern.



“He wrote back and apologized and said each call should be handled with empathy,” she said. “He said, ‘We listened to your 911 call and we do feel like there was a lack of service and we apologize.'”

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