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Family Returns to Find Home Violated by Armed Squatter

January 23, 1986|ELIZABETH LU | Times Staff Writer

A Burbank couple returning home from a ski trip this week found an unwanted guest waiting for them--a transient who had broken in and tucked a sawed-off shotgun in their baby's crib, taped bizarre messages in the house and donned the wife's clothing, police said.

But the homeowner, Jeffrey Hill, 38, a Vietnam veteran, was able to overpower the rifle-wielding intruder while his wife, Olivia, 30, ran for help, police said. Hill subdued the man, later identified by Burbank police as Richard Roe, 45, of Arizona, and locked him in the trunk of his wife's car until Burbank police arrived. Roe is scheduled to be arraigned on a charge of attempted murder today in Burbank Municipal Court.

Although the intruder proved to be no match for the couple, the Hills said they are still shaken by the Sunday night incident.

"I can't touch anything in this house because this man violated us," Olivia Hill said Wednesday. "I don't know if I can stay here again," she said of their home in the 1400 block of Country Club Drive in a mountainous residential area of the city.

In an interview Wednesday, the Hills related this account of the bizarre incident:

As soon as they arrived home from a weekend ski trip to Big Bear Lake, the Hills realized that something was amiss. The lights they had left on were off, and the curtains they had left open were drawn.

But, tired and anxious to get inside, they dismissed the warnings. Upon opening the door, the Hills discovered candles burning and messages taped on the kitchen cupboards and appliances. The messages ranged from "My name is Sally Field" and "Ronald Reagan is the head of state" to "All ye who enters these doors shall sink into the depths of the earth."

When she saw the notes, Olivia Hill said, she immediately fled with their 2-year-old son to a neighbor's house. "My first concern was the baby," she said.

Husband Entered House

In what he concedes may not have been a wise move, Jeffrey Hill entered the house. At the end of a hallway, he said, a figure holding a rifle stepped from his son's bedroom in the semi-darkness. Hill dashed into a bathroom for safety seconds before he heard a click. But the rifle did not fire.

While the intruder apparently was loading the gun, Hill said, he lunged at him and, after a struggle, wrested the weapon from him.

"I was dealing with a wild man," the 6-foot, 1-inch, 220-pound Hill said. "At first glance, he reminded me exactly of Charles Manson."

Hill emerged from the fight with cuts and bruises, but the suspect, whom police describe as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, was badly beaten, Hill's wife said.

On closer inspection, the Hills found that the intruder had thrown out all items bearing the family's name and everything else that linked them to the home, including Jeffrey Hill's Vietnam War medals and family pictures. He had also meticulously rearranged "everything in the house, every drawer, every piece of furniture, every towel," Olivia Hill said.

The intruder had tried on her new pink silk nightgown, a Christmas present, and was wearing another nightgown when caught, she said.

Every article of clothing touched by the man will be thrown out, the Hills said, and professional cleaners will be hired to scour the house.

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